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A total of four Illinois high school seniors named 2016 U.S. Presidential Scholars

SPRINGFIELD, IL – Two Illinois high school students are among a group of 20 students selected nationwide as the first U.S. Presidential Scholars in Career and Technical Education (CTE).

A total of four Illinois students have been named to the 2016 class of U.S. Presidential Scholars.

Sierra R. Day of Cerro Gordo High School and Madeline P. “Maddie” Poole of Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences were selected from 236 nominees in the 2016 inaugural category of Presidential Scholars in CTE. Sierra plans to attend Lake Land College in Mattoon, where she will be enrolled as an Agriculture Transfer student and member of the livestock judging team. She then plans to transfer to Iowa State University and major in Animal Sciences. Maddie plans to attend the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and will major in Agriculture and Biological Engineering.

They will join Illinois’ two other honored scholars – Samuel H. Detmer of Walter Payton College Preparatory School in Chicago and Elizabeth H. Keller of Hinsdale Central High School – on an expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C., next month. Samuel will attend Harvard University after graduation while Elizabeth will attend Yale, where she plans to study Economics and Applied Math.

“Illinois is extremely excited and proud to have four graduating seniors who’ve earned one of the most prestigious honors a high school student can receive,” said State Superintendent of Education Tony Smith, Ph.D. “The fact that two of our students are among the elite first class of Presidential Scholars in CTE shows the tremendous value of high-quality CTE programs in our schools to prepare students to compete and thrive in the global marketplace.”                                                                                

The U.S. Presidential Scholars Program was established in 1964 to recognize and honor some of the country’s most distinguished graduating seniors. In 1979, the program was expanded to recognize students who demonstrate exceptional scholarship and talent in the visual, creative, and performing arts. Last summer, President Barack Obama signed an executive order to establish a U.S. Presidential Scholars in CTE Program to honor up to 20 students each year on the basis of outstanding scholarship and demonstrated ability and accomplishment in career and technical education.

Each year, the White House Commission on Presidential Scholars selects program scholars 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. Students may also qualify for the distinction through outstanding performance on the College Board SAT and ACT exams, through nominations from chief state school officers, and through other partner recognition organizations or the National YoungArts Foundation’s nationwide YoungArts™ competition.

The 2016 Presidential Scholars include one young man and one young woman from each state, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, and from U.S. families living abroad, as well as 15 chosen at-large, 20 U.S. Presidential Scholars in the Arts, and 20 U.S. Presidential Scholars in CTE.

Each honored scholar will receive the Presidential Scholars Medallion during an award ceremony on June 19 in Washington, D.C.

To learn more about the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program, visit www.ed.gov/psp.

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