CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Five West Virginia public school students have been named 2013 United States Presidential Scholars semifinalists, one of the nation's highest honors for high school seniors.
Brett Atkinson of University High School and Michelle Ma of Morgantown High School, both Monongalia County; Vivian Yao and Sylvia Zhang, both of Hurricane High School, Putnam County; and Robert Zollinger of Martinsburg High School, Berkeley County; were chosen to advance.
The students, all high school seniors, are among 550 semifinalists selected from about 3.2 million graduating seniors nationwide.
“Congratulations go out to all of the semifinalists for their hard work and dedication to their studies,” said state Superintendent Jim Phares. “This achievement will open the door to numerous educational opportunities for continued success.”
Students named semifinalists were chosen for their academic achievement, artistic excellence, leadership, citizenship, service and contribution to school and community. Those who go on to be named Presidential Scholars will receive an expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C. during National Recognition Week and will be awarded the Presidential Scholars medallion. The four-day celebration includes educational seminars, meetings with representatives of the three branches of government, a morning of community service, an exhibition of scholars’ artwork and a public performance in the Concert Hall of the Kennedy Center by the Presidential Scholars in the Arts. Winners also are scheduled to meet with the president.
The Presidential Scholars program was established in 1964 to honor academic achievement and was expanded in 1979 to recognize students who demonstrate exceptional talent in the visual, literary and performing arts. It does not carry any monetary award.
Since 1983, scholars also have invited their most inspirational teacher to travel with them to Washington, D.C., to participate in events. The teachers also receive a Teacher Recognition Award from the U.S. Department of Education.
For more information, contact the West Virginia Department of Education’s Office of Communication at (304) 558-2699.