Presidential_Scholars_Program

Presidential Scholars Program

The Presidential Scholars Program was established in 1964, by executive order of the President of the United States to recognize and honor some of the most distinguished American graduating high school seniors.

In 1979, the program was extended to recognize students who demonstrate exceptional talent in the visual, creative and performing arts. Each year, up to 141 students are named as Presidential Scholars.

Students chosen as Presidential Scholars receive an expense-paid trip to Washington, DC in the summer, during which they meet with government officials, educators, authors, musicians, scientists and other accomplished people. During the week, scholars have the opportunity to visit museums and monuments, attend recitals and receptions, and go to ceremonies. To commemorate their achievement, the Scholars are awarded the Presidential Scholars medallion at a ceremony sponsored by the White House.

Selection of Presidential Scholars

All graduating high school seniors who are citizens of the United States and have scored exceptionally well on either the SAT of the College Board or the ACT Assessment of the American College Testing Program in or before the month of October of each year, are automatically considered for participation. The United States Department of Education then looks at test records for the top 30 males and top 30 females in each of the states/jurisdictions. The combined file of scores from the top male examinees and top female examinees are then ranked from high to low in each state. The scores associated with the top 20 male examinees and top 20 female examinees are used to identify the candidates in each state. When ties occur in the cut off score, more than 20 persons of that gender are selected in that state.

To be considered further, candidates must submit candidacy materials, including essays, self-assessments, secondary school reports, and transcripts. Candidates are evaluated on their academic achievement, personal characteristics, leadership and service activities, and an analysis of their essay.

In mid-April, approximately 500 semifinalists are chosen by an independent, national committee of educators convened by the Commission on Presidential Scholars. Six to twenty semifinalists are identified for each state/jurisdiction by the review committee. The number of semifinalists identified per state/jurisdiction is based on a proportionate number of test takers for that state.

In May, the Commission on Presidential Scholars makes the final selection of the 121 students. One young man and one young woman are chosen from each state, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and from families of U.S. citizens living abroad. In addition, up to 15 students are chosen at-large.

Of the 141 Scholars, 121 are chosen in the academics, and 20 in the arts.

For the arts component, students must register and participate in youngARTS, a national program of the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts which is designed to identify, recognize and encourage talented high school seniors who demonstrate excellence in dance, music, jazz, vocal performance, theater, photography, visual arts or writing.

Depending upon the discipline entered, registrants must submit audiotapes, videotapes, slides or manuscripts demonstrating artistic accomplishment. One panel for each art discipline evaluates applicants in a two-step process. The judges review material submitted by the applicants and select up to 20 award candidates in each of the eight disciplines (5 in music/jazz and 10 in music/voice and photography) for live adjudications in Miami. All applicants are judged against a standard of excellence within each artistic discipline and not against each other.

The final judging from youngARTS Week results in the recognition of excellence in five different award categories. Upon completion of the youngARTS program, NFAA will nominate up to fifty students who meet the eligibility requirements. These students will be mailed candidacy materials and invited to apply to the program.

To be considered further, candidates must submit candidacy materials, including essays, self-assessments, secondary school reports, and transcripts. Candidates are evaluated on their academic achievement, personal characteristics, leadership and service activities, and an analysis of their essay.

Arts candidates enter the Presidential Scholars Program selection process at the semifinalist level. In April, the Commission on Presidential Scholars makes the final selection of up to 20 Presidential Scholars in the Arts.

Another way to understand the selection process is by progressing through its numbers.

For the academic component, the Department of Education sends application packs to 2600 candidates based on their test scores. The candidates then go through a rigorous application process of essays, activities, and leadership activities, and then send their application to the White House Commission on Presidential Scholars. The Commission (composed of 29 political appointees selected by President Bush) whittles this down to 500 semifinalists, and from there, 121 scholars.

For the arts component, the NFAA receives about 7000 candidates annually. From there, they go through the difficult process of selecting the top 150 to go to Florida for more competition. The NFAA then chooses the top 50 from the Florida competition, and passes them on to the White House Commission on Presidential Scholars. The Commission, in turn, selects the 20 Presidential Scholars in the Arts.

2007 letter against torture

On June 25, 2007, during a visit to the White House, 50 Presidential Scholars made news by presenting President Bush with a letter urging him to halt human rights violations alleged to have been made against terror suspects. Part of the letter stated,

We do not want America to represent torture. We urge you to do all in your power to stop violations of the human rights of detainees, to cease illegal renditions, and to apply the Geneva Convention to all detainees, including those designated enemy combatants.

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