us medal

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos today announced the 56th class of U.S. Presidential Scholars, recognizing 161 high school seniors for their accomplishments in academics, the arts and career and technical education fields. Among the class was Gainesville resident Helena Jiang of Buchholz High School.

Helena Jiang of Buchholz High School.

Helena Jiang of Buchholz High School.

This honor is one of many that Jiang has earned during an illustrious academic career with Alachua County Public Schools. Some of her more recent accomplishments include:

  • 2020 National Merit Finalist
  • One of 40 finalists nationwide in the 2020 Regeneron Science Talent Search
  • A 1st Place Award in Chemistry in the 2019 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair
  • One of 150 2020 Coca Cola Scholars nationwide
  • One of 80 high school juniors nationwide chosen to attend the 2019 Summer Research Institute at MIT
  • Sunshine State Scholar in 2019 
  • Membership on the state- and national-championship Buchholz High School math teams

“Helena has been a shining star in this district for years,” said Superintendent Karen Clarke. “We’re so proud of the national and even international recognition she’s earned, and we know she will go on to accomplish great things when she graduates from Alachua County Public Schools.”

The Florida students include:

  • FL - Gainesville - Helena Jiang, Buchholz High School (Gainesville, Florida).
  • FL - Jacksonville - Mallorie Sievert, Douglas Anderson School of the Arts (Jacksonville, Florida).*
  • FL - Lake Worth - Mia Sarah Palomba, Alexander W. Dreyfoos School of the Arts (West Palm Beach, Florida).*
  • FL - Lithia - Alexander Grayson Dyer, Newsome High School (Lithia, Florida).
  • FL - Saint Johns - Lauren Philip, Creekside High School (Saint Johns, Florida).**
  • FL - Windermere - Sage Croft, Windermere High School (Windermere, Florida).*

* U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts

** U.S. Presidential Scholar in Career and Technical Education

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, more than 5,300 candidates qualified for the 2020 awards determined by outstanding performance on the College Board SAT or ACT exams or through nominations made by Chief State School Officers, other partner recognition organizations and the National YoungArts Foundation’s nationwide YoungArts™ competition.

As directed by Presidential Executive Order, the 2020 U.S. Presidential Scholars are comprised of one young man and one young woman from each state, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, and U.S. families living abroad, as well as 15 chosen at-large, 20 Scholars in the Arts and 20 Scholars in Career and Technical Education. 

Created in 1964, the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program has honored over 7,600 of the nation’s top-performing students. The program was expanded in 1979 to recognize students who demonstrate exceptional talent in the visual, literary and performing arts. In 2015, the program was again extended to recognize students who demonstrate ability and accomplishment in career and technical education fields.

The Presidential Scholars Class of 2020 will be recognized for their outstanding achievement this summer, as public health circumstances permit.

A complete list of 2020 U.S. Presidential Scholars is available at http://www.ed.gov/psp

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