Two Hempstead High School students and one Dubuque Senior High School student have been named among more than 5,000 candidates in the 2024 U.S. Presidential Scholars Program. The candidates were selected from nearly 3.6 million students expected to graduate from U.S. high schools in the year 2024. Graduating seniors Hannah Davisdon (Hempstead), Charlie Driscoll (Hempstead) and Caitlyn Kono (Dubuque Senior) were recognized with the honor.

Inclusion in the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program 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.

A distinguished panel of educators reviewed these submissions and the semifinalists were narrowed down from a field of 91 selected candidates from Iowa. Caitlyn Kono was named as one of seven Iowa semifinalists and one of over 600 across the United States.

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. All scholars are honored for their accomplishments during the online National Recognition Program. U.S Presidential Scholars are awarded the U.S. Presidential Scholars medallion each June.

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. For more than 59 years, this unique federal program has honored over 8,000 U.S. Presidential Scholars, who have demonstrated leadership, scholarship, and contribution to school and community. The work of the Commission on Presidential Scholars reaffirms, on behalf of the President, the Nation’s commitment to education.