Presidential Scholars Recognized in Washington

 U.S. Presidential Scholars for the Arts Performance at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C

Scholars take a bow at the U.S. Presidential Scholars for the Arts Performance at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.

More than 140 of the country’s brightest high school seniors arrived in Washington this week for the U.S. Presidential Scholars’ National Recognition Week. The annual event brings together and honors the recipients of the nation’s highest honor for graduating seniors.

Secretary Duncan and the 2012 US Presidential Scholars

Secretary Duncan and the 2012 U.S. Presidential Scholars at the White House this week. Official Department of Education photo by Leslie Williams.

The 2012 Presidential Scholars are comprised of one young man and one young woman from each state, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, and from U.S. families living abroad, as well as 15 chosen at-large and 20 Presidential Scholars in the Arts.

The program’s alumni have gone on to lead and achieve in nearly every field of endeavor, from leading scientists and entrepreneurs; business people and philanthropists; stars of stage and screen, and public servants and statesmen. Presidential Scholars have won the Pulitzer Prize, the MacArthur “genius grant,” the National Medal of Arts, and other prestigious awards.

Secretary Duncan recognized the Scholars on Saturday at the annual Medallion Ceremony and again on Monday night at the U.S. Presidential Scholars for the Arts Performance at the Kennedy Center in Washington.

Click here to see a list of this year’s U.S. Presidential Scholars, and read more about the Presidential Scholars program.

Read Secretary Duncan’s Presidential Scholars speech.

Honoring Exceptional High School Graduates – The 2011 Presidential Scholars

Official Department of Education Photo by Joshua Hoover

“I feel smarter just being in the room with you,” said Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to the 2011 U.S. Presidential Scholars at one of the many events held this week to honor the distinguished young men and women for their remarkable academic, artistic, and civic achievements.

The 141 Scholars, whose ranks include graduating high school seniors from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico, as well as U.S. families stationed overseas. The Scholars were announced last month after being selected by the presidentially appointed Commission on Presidential Scholars.

Official Department of Education Photo by Joshua Hoover

During their Washington visit, the 2011 Scholars enjoyed a schedule crowded with activities that included a medallion ceremony with Secretary Duncan, where the Scholars had a chance to quiz Arne on issues ranging from school funding to the importance of arts education; a dinner in the Mellon Auditorium at which each Scholar recognized his or her most influential teacher; an opportunity to perform community service with the Horton’s Kids nonprofit organization; and an evening performance at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts featuring the work of the Scholars in the Arts, including actors, singers, musicians, dancers, poets and visual artists.

“Our country has never had so many challenges, but I have never been more optimistic, because of young people like you,” Secretary Duncan told the Scholars at the medallion ceremony. “I’m tremendously optimistic about the future.”

Established in 1964 by President Lyndon B. Johnson, the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program symbolically honors all graduating high school seniors of high potential.

For more on the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program, including a complete list of the 2011 honorees, go to:  http://www2.ed.gov/programs/psp/index.html