43 Years of Presidential Scholars
Te United States Presidential Scholars Program was established in1964, by Executive Order of the President, to recognize and celebratesome of our Nation’s most distinguished graduating high school seniors.Each year, up to 141 American students from across the country andaround the world are named as Presidential Scholars, one of the Nation’shighest honors for high school students. By presenting these youngpeople with the Presidential Scholars’ Medallion, the President of theUnited States symbolically honors all graduating high school seniors of high potential.For forty-three years, from President Lyndon Baines Johnson toPresidentGeorge W. Bush, the Presidential Scholars Program has placedmore than 5,000 outstanding young achievers in the national spotlight.Initiated by President Johnson, the Presidential Scholars Programannually selects one male and one female student from each state, theDistrict of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Americans living abroad, 15 at-largestudents, and up to 20 students in the arts on the basis of outstandingscholarship, service, leadership and creativity through a rigorousselection process administered by the U.S. Department of Education.President Johnson opened the ﬁrst meeting of the White HouseCommission on Presidential Scholars by stating that the Program wasnot just a reward for excellence, but a means of nourishing excellence.Te Program was intended to stimulate achievement in a way thatcould be “revolutionary.”During the ﬁrst National Recognition Week in 1964, the Scholarsparticipated in seminars with Secretary of State Dan Rusk, Astronaut Alan B. Sheppard, and Chief Justice Earl Warren. President Johnsonchallenged the Scholars to give their talents and time “in our landand in all lands to cleaning away the blight, to sweeping away theshoddiness, to wiping away the injustices and inequities of the past sothat all men may live together in a great world community of decency and excellence.”Over the next decade, several changes occurred in the PresidentialScholars Program. In 1969, the medallion design became the GreatSeal of the Nation. In 1972, the National eacher of the Year wasinvited to become a Commissioner. Alumni Scholars were invitedto serve as Advisors to the program. A booklet of Scholars’ essayson issues facing the nation was issued by the Joint Commission on Arrangements for the Bicentennial in 1976.