Two Missouri high school students were chosen as members of the 53rd class of U.S. Presidential Scholars, as announced by the office of U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.
Erin Neely (Des Peres; Parkway South High School, Manchester) and Thomas Pointer (Gainesville; Gainesville R-V High School, Gainesville) earned top billing from Missouri, joining representatives from each state, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, and U.S. families living abroad.
Eleven additional Missouri students were selected as semifinalists:
- Olivia R. Brown, Springfield; American University Preparatory School, Los Angeles, Calif.
- Arjun Devraj, Chesterfield; Marquette High School, Chesterfield
- Kaylin Maggard*, Columbia; Rock Bridge High School, Columbia
- Connor J. McKenzie**, Kansas City; North Kansas City High School, Kansas City
- Claire J. Millett, Clayton; Clayton High School, Clayton
- Harry S. Rubin, St. Louis; Clayton High School, Clayton
- Richard R. Shang, Columbia; Rock Bridge High School, Columbia
- Brian M. Simmons, Springfield; Kickapoo High School, Springfield
- Momin L. Tahirkheli, Kansas City; The Pembroke Hill School, Kansas City
- Vivian K. Vaughn**, Ste. Genevieve; Ste. Genevieve High School, Ste. Genevieve
- Lucy Zhu, Chesterfield; Marquette High School, Chesterfield
[*] – Candidate for U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts
[**] – Candidate for U.S. Presidential Scholar in Career and Technical Education
“The U.S. Presidential Scholars program recognizes some of our nation’s best and brightest, and Missouri is once again well-represented in this year’s awards,” said Commissioner of Education Margie Vandeven. “These students are to be commended for their hard work both in and out of the classroom."
The White House Commission on Presidential Scholars selects honored students annually based on their academic success, artistic excellence, essays, school evaluations and transcripts, as well as evidence of community service, leadership, and demonstrated commitment to high ideals.
The program was established by Executive Order of the President in 1964 to recognize some of the nation’s most distinguished graduating seniors. A complete listing of 2017 Presidential Scholars is available here.