The U.S. Department of Education recently released the names of the U.S. Presidential Scholars semifinalists. Two Walton High School students made the list of Georgia’s 17 semifinalists: Nidhi Satheesh Manikkoth and Ria Sanjita Uppalapati.
The Walton students were selected from a candidate pool of 5,600 across the nation. In total, approximately 620 students were named semifinalists.
The U.S. Presidential Scholars Program was established in 1964, by executive order of the President, to recognize and honor some of the nation’s most distinguished graduating high school seniors. In 1979, the program was extended to recognize students who demonstrate exceptional talent in the visual, creative and performing arts. In 2015, the program was again extended to recognize students who demonstrate ability and accomplishment in career and technical education fields. Each year, up to 161 students are named as Presidential Scholars, one of the nation’s highest honors for high school students.
The White House Commission on Presidential Scholars selects scholars annually based on their academic success, artistic and technical excellence, essays, school evaluations, and transcripts, as well as evidence of community service, leadership, and demonstrated commitment to high ideals.
U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos will announce the names of the U.S. Presidential Scholars in early May. Walton student William Ellsworth was selected as a 2019 U.S. Presidential Scholar.
Students chosen as U.S. Presidential Scholars receive an expense-paid trip to Washington, D. C. in and are presented the U.S. Presidential Scholars medallion at a ceremony sponsored by the White House, in commemoration of their achievements. During their visit to Washington, Scholars have access to important national and international figures, including government officials, educators, authors, musicians, scientists, and other accomplished people. Scholars are provided opportunities to wrestle with issues that concern America and the world; attend recitals, receptions and ceremonies held in their honor; and visit area museums and monuments. But perhaps the greatest benefit to the Scholars, and the one they most often remark on, is the chance to exchange ideas with similarly motivated and accomplished peers and to forge friendships that last a lifetime.