LRSD Boasts a Historic Number of Presidential Scholars Program Candidates

The Little Rock School District is proud to announce that 13 of its students have been named candidates for the prestigious 2015 United States Presidential Scholars Program. This is perhaps the largest group of candidates that Little Rock Central High School has ever had and can be confirmed as the largest group within the last 20 years. It is far and above the largest group in the state of Arkansas and may, in fact, be among the largest groups from a single school in the entire recognition program this year. Our search revealed only 11 schools in the U.S. with more candidates. The second largest group of candidates in the state, four, can be found at two Arkansas high schools.

The 13 candidates, selected for their accomplishments in academic success, leadership and involvement in the community, are:

Trisha Bhattacharya
Chen-Bo Fang
Sherry T. Gao
Sarthak Garg
Clark M. Kennedy
Rachana Kombathulsa
Ray Li
Jace J. McPhershon
Matthew Ponder
Shruti M. Shah
Chandler J. Smith
Chuang Z. Tang
Jeong-Min Wui

Ultimately, one male and one female from each state, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico will be selected. In 2014, both of Presidential Scholars for the state of Arkansas were Central High students: Abhilasha Gokulan and Alexander Zhang.

The U.S. Presidential Scholars Program was established in 1964 by Executive Order of the President to recognize and honor some of our nation's most distinguished graduating seniors. In 1979, the program was expanded to recognize student who demonstrate exceptional talent in the visual, creative, and performing arts. Annually, up to 141 students are chosen from among outstanding graduating seniors to become U.S. Presidential Scholars, one of the nation's highest honors for high school students.

Each year over 3,900 candidates are identified for the academic component of the program, based on having scored exceptionally well on the SAT or ACT

A review committee of qualified individuals experienced in secondary and post-secondary education evaluates candidates on their academic achievement, personal characteristics, leadership and service activities, and the quality and content of their essay.

Approximately 560 candidates will be named semifinalists, and their names and supporting materials are forwarded to the Commission for further review. In April, the White House Commission on Presidential Scholars reviews the applications of all semifinalists, applying the same criteria used by the review committee. The Commission selects up to 121 Academic Scholars.

The scholars are honored for their accomplishments during National Recognition Program, held in June in Washington, D.C. During this trip, the U.S.