Michelle LaJoie, a graduating senior at Santa Monica High School, has been named one of more than 4,000 candidates in the 2016 U.S. Presidential Scholars Program. Christopher Alba and Ben Ross are the only two other students at Santa Monica High School to earn this honor. The candidates were selected from nearly 3.3 million students expected to graduate from U.S. high schools in the year 2016.
Besides receiving a perfect score on the Reading and Math sections of the SAT, Michelle also is an accomplished classical guitarist and founder of a Samohi club providing homeless families with the materials to create birthday celebrations for their children. She is also co-principal violist in the Samohi Symphony Orchestra that will tour Europe this March.
Inclusion in the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program, now in its 52nd year, is one of the highest honors bestowed upon graduating high school seniors. Scholars are selected on the basis of superior academic and artistic achievements, leadership qualities, strong character and involvement in community and school activities.
The U.S. Presidential Scholars Program was established in 1964 by Executive Order of the President to recognize some of our nation’s most distinguished graduating seniors for their accomplishments in many areas: academic success, leadership, and service to school and community. It was expanded in 1979 to recognize students demonstrating exceptional scholarship and talent in the visual, creative, and performing arts. In 2015, the program was expanded once again to recognize students who demonstrate ability and accomplishment in career and technical fields. Annually, up to 161 U.S. Presidential Scholars are chosen from among that year’s senior class, representing excellence in education and the promise of greatness in America’s youth. All Scholars are invited to Washington, DC in June for the National Recognition Program, featuring various events and enrichment activities and culminating in the presentation of the Presidential Scholars Medallion during a White House-sponsored ceremony.
A distinguished panel of educators will review these submissions and select 800 semifinalists in early April. The Commission on Presidential Scholars, a group of up to 32 eminent citizens appointed by the President, will select the finalists, and the U.S. Department of Education will announce the Scholars in May.
Scholars will be invited to Washington, DC, for several days in June to receive the Presidential Scholars Medallion at a recognition ceremony and to participate in events and activities.