Vermont’s Presidential Scholars recognized at the Statehouse

MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) – Exceptional talent and leadership are just a few of the qualities of Vermont’s Presidential Scholars. On Monday, 14 students received the prestigious recognition. There were also a handful of honorable mentions.

Students can become Presidential Scholars for general academic achievement, art scholars, or in technical professional education. Vermont Secretary of Education Dan French says he is impressed with the recipients. “It’s just so impressive to hear all the things these kids are doing again related to the pandemic,” French said. Vermont’s best and brightest high school graduates are recognized for their hard work.

Presidential Scholar recipients like Madeline Pike were nominated not only for their academic ability, but also for how they use their skills to help the community. “I sent off my application, waited a few weeks,” Pike said. “I was very concerned about it because I was very excited.” She is the chapter president of the National Honor Society at Richford High School, but has also created a volunteer program for her peers to help with physical education classes. “I just felt like there should be more,” Pike said. “There’s not a lot of money in my community, but there are a lot of students who are interested in sports and don’t get the opportunity.”

Mount Mansfield Union senior and Burlington Technical Center student Hayden Jessiman was nominated by his teacher, Ashley Stagner. His design skills were used to help Camp Ta-Kum-Ta raise funds for their fire pit area by creating renderings to show potential donors. “Being apart from that was an incredible feeling,” Jessiman said. “Knowing that I was helping something so profound was just really…amazing.”

“This is a kid who went beyond pursuing their art education,” Stagner said. “Like he’s sought every opportunity he can find and then stretches it beyond himself.”

Along with Pike and Jessiman were some proud parents and friends. “He spends hours and hours drawing and has worked so hard to perfect his craft,” said Jessiman’s mother, Noreen Pirog.

“It’s just a remarkable achievement for all the kids here,” said Chris Pike, Madeline’s father. “I am very, very proud of my daughter.”

“It makes you so happy for the future to see all the things they’ve accomplished,” French said.

As for what’s next, Pike and Jessiman say they want to go to college. A full list of this year’s Presidential Scholars and a little about them is below.

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