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Patriotic Article
By Samantha L. Quigley

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Military Students Nominated for Presidential Scholars Program
(February 19, 2009)

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WASHINGTON, Feb. 17, 2009 – More than a dozen Department of Defense Education Activity students are among the 3,000 U.S. high school students chosen as candidates for the 2009 Presidential Scholars Program.

“It's a huge program, because any senior who has taken the SAT or ACT is eligible,” Frank X. O'Gara, the activity's educational communications officer, said. “This year we had 14 candidates. That isn't uncommon in this first round.”

Though no DoDEA students were selected for the program last year, two military students became presidential scholars in 2006 and 2007. These exceptional students are afforded many opportunities during their visit to Washington to receive the Presidential Scholars medallion, O'Gara said.

“Scholars are provided opportunities to wrestle with issues that concern America and the world,” he said. “[They] participate in volunteer activities ... to benefit those in need and make a difference in our nation's capital, attend recitals, receptions and ceremonies held in their honor, and visit area museums and monuments.

“But 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,” O'Gara said.

The Presidential Scholars Program was established in 1964 through a presidential executive order. It was created to recognize and honor some of the country's graduating high school seniors who display broad academic achievement.

Beginning in 1979, the program extended its recognition to include seniors who excel in visual, creative and performing arts. Since then, up to 20 students who demonstrate exceptional talent in these areas are chosen for the program in addition to those chosen strictly on academic achievement.

By early April, the candidate group will be narrowed to just 500 semifinalists. The Commission on Presidential Scholars then will make the final selections. One young man and woman from each state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and U.S. students living abroad, 15 students-at-large, and up to 20 students from the creative and performing arts will be selected.

The Education Department will announce the 2009 scholars in May.

The scholars traditionally are invited to Washington in June to receive the Presidential Scholars medallion during a recognition ceremony. They also have the opportunity to participate in special events and activities.

All 3,000 candidates were chosen from the nearly 2.8 million high school seniors looking forward to graduation this spring. They were chosen for their exceptional performance on either the SAT or the ACT tests. Additional consideration is based on students' essays, self-assessments, activity descriptions of, school recommendations and school transcripts.

This year's DoDEA candidates are:

  • Patrick A. Bush, Ramstein American High School

  • Lauren E. Dunn, Patch American High School

  • Sarah D. Johnson, Brussels American High School

  • Christopher B. Mittuch, Allied Forces Central Europe School

  • Jared A. Taylor, Patch American High School

  • Christine E. Ashton, H. H. Arnold High School

  • Kelsey M. Collier, Ramstein American High School

  • Stuart Gujral, Heidelberg American High School

  • Michael E. Newman, Osan American High School

  • Audry Padgett, Kadena High School

  • Amy E. Schafer, Patch American High School

  • William C. Lennard, Kadena High School

  • Bruce W. Pfirrmann, Nile C Kinnick High School

  • Keith G. Yeager, E. J. King American High School

A complete list of 2009 presidential scholar candidates can be found on the Education Department's Presidential Scholars Program Web site.

By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service
Copyright 2009

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