Green River Star -

By Stephanie Thompson
People Editor 

GR students make initial president scholars' list


Amber Nelson

Two Green River High School students were recently named as candidates for an impressive scholars program.

Amber Nelson and Kayla Gibson, who will both graduate this year, were two out of 4,000 candidates selected in the 2016 U.S. Presidential Scholars Program.

According to a press release from the program, "The candidates were selected from nearly 3.3 million students expected to graduate from U.S. high schools in the year of 2016. 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."

The release also states seniors are selected based on their academics or artistic achievements, leadership qualities, strong character and involvement in students and community activities.

Both students were surprised by their names being on the list; and their reactions were the same.

"I thought is was really cool when I got the letter," Gibson said. "It's a real honor."

"It feels really amazing," Nelson said. "I didn't expect this, but being one of the candidates is such an honor." 

The best part about the scholars program was the students had no idea they were even on the program's radar until the list was announced.

"I didn't apply to be selected," Gibson said."

However, after the 4,000 were announced, those who wanted to be considered for 800 finalist spots needed to send in an application. 

"Once I realized that this was actually a pretty big deal, I didn't really know much about this award before, it was a little intimidating," Nelson said. "I felt pretty special though because not a ton of kids get nominated. I've always tried to work hard in school, so this was exciting to see that pay off and be recognized for this."

Nelson said most of her application process was online work, but her school counselor had to do a lot of work to help her apply.

"I had to fill out several forms, nominate an influential teacher, write four short essays, and one longer essay," Nelson said.

Although there is not a cash award attached to this honor, it does comes with a lot of bragging rights. 

According to the press release, "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 D.C., 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."

Both students are excited at the possibility of going to Washington D.C.

"It would be a huge accomplishment for me. It would be awesome to get to travel to Washington, D.C. to receive this award," Nelson said.

"I know there's a lot of competition, but it would be amazing if I could continue," Gibson said.

The 800 semifinalist names will be listed in April; and a group of 32 citizens, appointed by the U.S. President will select the 161 finalists. The U.S. Department of Education will announce the scholars in May, the release states.

Both students are just waiting and hoping their names will be on the list of 800.

Kayla Gibson

Gibson is active in the school. She is a member of the speech and debate team, choir, band and theater. When she is not busy with school, she is involved with her church.

Gibson plans to attend BYU-Provo in Provo, Utah, in the fall. She wants to either major in English or music education.

Nelson is on the National Honor Society and a student mentor. She has helped at the nursing home, served as class president at church and participated in city and highway cleanups. She enjoys playing the piano and her job, which is working with and tutoring children at Green River After School Program.

"I've been accepted by several colleges, but I'm waiting to hear back on scholarships before I make a final decision," Nelson said. 

Nelson is also undecided on a major and minor, but she is considering something in health or exercise science.


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