Students in running for national honor

Monday, January 31, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 11:41 p.m. CDT, Thursday, July 17, 2008

Four Hickman High School seniors and one home-schooled Columbia senior have a chance to receive one of the nation’s highest academic honors as a Presidential Scholar.

Vellore Arthi, Stefan Novosel, Benjamin Shelton and Suzanne Wetz, all from Hickman, and Carmen Pettus, who is home-schooled, are the Columbia-area nominees, according to the Presidential Scholars Program Web site.

Nominations are based on academic records and college entrance exams; three of the Hickman nominees earned perfect scores on their ACTs, said Ann Landes, director of guidance at Hickman.

Upon nomination, students are asked to fill out an application that is reviewed by members of the U.S. Department of Education, who are appointed by the president. The committee selects 141 Presidential Scholars from 2,600 nominees based on scholarship, leadership, service and creativity.

Established in 1964 by President Lyndon B. Johnson, the committee selects one male and one female from each state, Puerto Rico, the District of Columbia and from Americans studying abroad. Fifteen at-large students and up to 20 art students will also be chosen as Presidential Scholars.

The winning scholars will be notified in April and then flown to Washington that summer, free of charge, Landes said. Throughout the year, the organization collects private and public donations to pay for the scholars’ transportation, housing and meals, as well as for the enrichment activities they participate in during the week in Washington.

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