BENNINGTON >> Two students from Mount Anthony Union High School have been chosen as Vermont U.S. Presidential Scholars.
Seniors Brenden Hay and Kelsey R. Sherman will join 22 other students from across the state when they are honored at the Vermont Statehouse in a ceremony on December 3. They will be eligible to apply for the national program, which recognizes up to 161 students from across the country each year, inviting them to a ceremony in Washington, D.C., where they would receive a Presidential Scholars Medallion. James Moore III, of Burr and Burton Academy in Manchester, was also selected as one of this year's Vermont Presidential Scholars.
The program, which is run through the federal Department of Education, was established by executive order in 1964. According to the Department of Education's website, it remains, "one of the nation's highest honors for high school students." The program was expanded last year to include students in career and technical education.
Last year, MAUHS senior Brian Murphy was selected as one of the 3,900 candidates for the national awards. Only two students from Vermont made the final cut, Mael Le Scouezec of Craftsbury Academy and Charlotte C. Randall of Harwood Union High School. In 2009, MAUHS student Miles Yucht was one of 560 semifinalists from across the country, and only six from Vermont. No Bennington County students have been selected to the national program since at least 2003, as far back as the archive of winners on the Department of Education's website goes.
"Presidential Scholars demonstrate the accomplishments that can be made when students challenge themselves, set the highest standards, and commit themselves to excellence," said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan at last year's ceremony in Washington, "These scholars are poised to make their mark on our nation in every field imaginable: the arts and humanities, science and technology, law and medicine, business and finance, education and government — to name a few. Their academic and artistic achievements reflect a sense of purpose that we should seek to instill in all students to prepare them for college, careers, civic responsibilities, and the challenges of today's job market."
The 24 winners will be recognized at a ceremony on the floor of the House Chambers at 5 p.m. on Dec. 3, which will be followed by a reception in the Cedar Room. The candidates for the national awards are typically announced in March, with semi-finalists announced in April, and the winners announced in May. The finalists are made up of one man and one woman from each state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and from U.S. families living abroad, as well as 15 at-large winners. Candidates for the national program are chosen based on performance on SAT and ACT exams.