By Jacob Perkins
Two Kentucky high school students have been named 2021 U.S. Presidential Scholars, U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona announced May 13.
Sarah Belcher of Pikeville High School (Pikeville Independent) and Justin Michael Burch of St. Xavier High School in Louisville are two of 161 high school seniors across the nation recognized for their accomplishments in academics, the arts and career and technical education.
“On behalf of the Kentucky Department of Education, I want to congratulate both Sarah and Justin for this tremendous accomplishment,” said Education Commissioner Jason E. Glass. “The work of these two students reflects highly on their dedication and commitment to excellence, and also on the outstanding work being done in Kentucky’s schools.”
The White House Commission on Presidential Scholars selects scholars annually based on their academic success, artistic and technical excellence, essays, school evaluations and transcripts, as well as evidence of community service, leadership and demonstrated commitment to high ideals.
Of the 3.6 million students expected to graduate from high school this year, over 6,000 candidates qualified for the 2021 awards determined by outstanding performance on the College Board SAT or ACT exams or through nominations made by state education commissioners, other partner recognition organizations and the National YoungArts Foundation’s nationwide YoungArts™ program.
“The 2021 Presidential Scholars represent extraordinary achievements for our extraordinary times,” said Cardona. “Their examples make me proud and hopeful about the future. Honoring them can remind us all of the great potential in each new generation and renew our commitment to helping them achieve their dreams.”
The U.S. Presidential Scholars Program has honored over 7,600 of the nation’s top-performing students since its inception in 1964. In 1979, the program expanded to recognize students who exhibit exceptional talent in the visual, literary and performing arts. The program was extended once more in 2015 to recognize students who demonstrate ability and accomplishment in career and technical education fields.
The Presidential Scholars Class of 2021 will be recognized for its outstanding achievement this summer.
A complete list of 2021 winners is also available on the U.S. Department of Education’s U.S. Presidential Scholars Program webpage.