RCSD senior is in the running for President’s Scholar Program

Zachariah Thomas

Riverview Community High School senior Zachariah Thomas has qualified for and applied for one of the nation’s highest honors for high school students – The Presidential Scholars Program.

Thomas, the son of Douglas and Susan Thomas, scored 1590 out of 1600 on the SAT Test, has a 4.0+ cumulative GPA while taking AP, CP, and dual enrollment courses and is planning to attend the University of Michigan-Dearborn to become a physicist.

His application will be judged based on his academic achievement, leadership qualities, and community service. Only 161 students will win the award out of a pool of more than 3.6 million graduating seniors.

Inclusion in the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program is one of the highest honors bestowed upon graduating high school seniors. 

Scholars are selected on the basis of superior academic and artistic achievements, leadership qualities, strong character and involvement in community and school activities. 

Annually, up to 161 U.S. Presidential Scholars are chosen from among that year’s senior class, representing excellence in education and the promise of greatness in America’s youth. If circumstances permit, all Scholars are invited to Washington, DC in June for the National Recognition Program, featuring various events and enrichment activities and culminating in the presentation of the Presidential Scholars Medallion during a White House-sponsored ceremony. 

The United States Presidential Scholars Program was established in 1964, by Executive Order of the President, to recognize and honor some of our Nation’s most distinguished graduating high school seniors. 

In 1979, the Program was extended to recognize students who demonstrate exceptional talent in the visual, creative and performing arts. 

In 2015, the program was again extended to recognize students who demonstrate ability and accomplishment in career and technical education fields. 

Each year, up to 161 students are named as U.S. Presidential Scholars, one of the nation’s highest honors for high school students. 

The Scholars represent excellence in education and the promise of greatness in young people. In honoring the U.S. Presidential Scholars, the President of the United States symbolically honors all graduating high school seniors of high potential. 

Students have the opportunity to become U.S. Presidential Scholars based on three paths of accomplishment. 

The majority of the Scholars are selected on the basis of broad academic achievement. Approximately twenty students are selected on the basis of their academic and artistic scholarship in the visual arts, the performing arts, or creative writing. And approximately twenty additional students are selected on the basis of their ability and accomplishment in career and technical education fields. 

Each year over 4,500 candidates are identified for the component of the program that focuses on academic achievement and based on having scored exceptionally well on the SAT or the ACT. 

For the arts component of the Program, students are initially selected based on their artistic ability. Students must register for and participate in National YoungArts Foundation (YoungArts), a national program identifying and recognizing young people demonstrating excellence in the arts. 

Upon completion of the YoungArts program, the National YoungArts Foundation nominates approximately 60 students who meet the U.S. Presidential Scholars candidacy requirements.

For the career and technical education component of the Program, students are initially selected based on their accomplishments in career and technical education fields. Students are nominated through their Chief State School Officer. Each CSSO can nominate up to five candidates who meet the U.S. Presidential Scholars candidacy requirements.

A group of approximately 600 semifinalists will be announced in April and The Commission on Presidential Scholars, a group of up to 32 eminent citizens appointed by the President, will select the finalists, and The U.S. Department of Education will announce the 161 Scholars the first week in May. 

Since 1964, this unique federal program has honored more than 7,500 U.S. Presidential Scholars, who have demonstrated scholarship, leadership, artistic excellence and selfless service to others. 

The work of the Commission on Presidential Scholars, on behalf of the President and his Administration, reflects recognition of the immense value and potential of our Nation’s youth, and a deep commitment to ensuring that every child in America receives the benefits of a world-class education.

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