Thirteen Teton County students have been selected as U.S. Presidential Scholar candidates.
Though not all will be chosen for the prestigious program, even being named a candidate is a huge honor for a graduating senior. Students cannot apply for the program, which was established in 1961, nor can schools nominate them.
Instead, program administrators select most candidates based on academic performance. Some are also chosen because of their artistic endeavors or work in career and technical education.
Of the local students, nine were from Jackson Hole Community School: Thomas R. Berner, Joshua K. Hansen, Marena Rose B. Herr, Vivian Ann B. Herr, Ryan W. Millham, Cannon S. Mueller, Maxwell A. Peters, Madeline L. Webb and Benjamin R. Williams. From Jackson Hole High School, Ally T. Smith. And three local teens who attend private schools elsewhere also made the list: Marygrace A. Beastrom of St. Paul’s School, Nikola D. Muromcew of Phillips Academy and Benjamin N. Siminoff of Menlo School.
Students are selected based on “exceptional” SAT or ACT scores. They then provide a litany of additional materials, including essays, self-reflections and transcripts.
A review committee is tasked with choosing up to 161 Presidential Scholars. The award is not a scholarship and carries no financial benefit, though some schools offer scholarships for students who receive the recognition.
In most years, selected scholars take an expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C., where they meet with government officials and each other during a weekend of events. However, COVID-19 may disrupt that tradition, which the U.S. Department of Education deems an important experience for many students.
“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,” the department’s website states.
In mid-April, the department will name semifinalists for the award, and Scholars will be announced in May.