ACT and SAT scores play a role in getting students into college, and for two Kenai Peninsula Borough School District seniors, they also open the door for special recognition in Washington, D.C.
Homer High School senior Hannah Bradley and Seward High senior Alan Logan have been recognized as candidates for the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program based on scoring among the highest in Alaska on their college entrance exams.
The scholars program has three levels of recognition. About 2,600 students nationwide are selected as candidates based on high SAT and ACT scores. Those students are invited to apply to become the 500 semi-finalists chosen based on essays, self-assessments, secondary school reports and transcripts. From those, 141 are picked as Presidential Scholars, with 121 chosen in an academic track, and 20 picked as showing exceptional achievement in the arts.
In June, Presidential Scholars are invited to Washington, D.C., to participate in a week of events recognizing their achievement, including trips to museums and national monuments, arts and cultural events and an awards ceremony sponsored by the White House. Presidential Scholars also are asked to identify a teacher who most influenced them, and each educator is invited to receive a Teacher Recognition Award.
Hannah and Alan qualified for the program based on high test scores, but the SAT and ACTs aren't the only areas they've excelled in.
Homer High Principal Ron Keffer said Hannah is a 4.0 student taking advanced-placement classes, and also is active in school activities, including Future Farmers of America, band, the local fencing club, and she's the president of the school's National Honor Society.
"She's an extremely capable young woman who will be successful and knock our socks off with her impact on this planet," he said. "... And she's also just a pleasure to work with. She's always nice, she has a great smile and is always in a great humor. She's something, she really is."
Hannah was born and raised in Homer, along with her older sister, Savannah, by parents, Tammy and Don Bradley. She's hoping to go a college with a good science program that's not "too gigantic" or "too minisculely small and has some good activities going on."
For now she's trying to make time amongst the mountain of applications and paperwork that comes with being a senior to enjoy her last year of high school.
"I'm having a really fun time this year," she said. "I think it'll be sad to end that. Being a senior makes you extremely nostalgic."
Alan is about as busy a senior as they come, as well. He's done football and wrestling and plans to play soccer this year. He's a member of the school's National Honor Society, and he's been a volunteer firefighter since his junior year.
"It's a great opportunity to help people out," Alan said. "My two older brothers did it, and my dad is assistant fire chief, so it's sort of a tradition by now."
Alan has a younger brother along with the two older ones, who live with parents Daniel and Katheryn. He's planning to attend Whitman College in Walla Walla, Wash., probably to study engineering.
He's taken several advanced classes, including calculus, physics, government and Spanish.
"He is phenomenal. He's probably the brightest student I've seen in, gosh, I've been teaching 12 years," said Stephanie Cronin, a math teacher at Seward High. "... He eats it up. When I give him problems he just wants more and more challenges. It's very exciting to have a student like him."
Jenny Neyman is the communications specialist for the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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