Three D211 Students Named Presidential Scholars Semifinalists

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After 3,000 of the nation’s most distinguished high school seniors were selected by the United States Presidential Scholars Program, semifinalists were narrowed down to 500 students across the country, and three District 211 students made the cut.

Seniors Andrew Song and William Shih from William Fremd High School, and Mengran Liu from Hoffman Estates High School, are awaiting the May announcement to see if they will be named a Presidential Scholar to represent Illinois.

Mengran Liu

Mengran Liu

“I’m not coming into this with any sorts of expectations, so I am not too nervous,” Shih said. “We’re competing with an incredible group of kids who have done mind blowing, amazing things. If this is how far it gets, it’s an honor and a privilege to have gotten this far.”

Exceptional students who excel academically and have high test scores are selected by the program. Those 3,000 candidates then have an option to fill out an application and write an essay to further the process. This essay requires each student to write about an inspirational teacher that has impacted their lives.

From there, candidates are narrowed down to 560 semifinalists. In May, 121 students will be named Presidential Scholars, and 20 will be art scholars.

Andrew Song

Andrew Song

Although this isn’t a monetary scholarship program, students named Presidential Scholars will have the opportunity to meet other selected students and travel to Washington D.C. to be honored at the White House. Song said if he is selected, he is most excited about meeting other excellent students from all walks of life.

“It would be really interesting to meet with some of the students who have very diverse backgrounds and interesting experiences,” Song said. “If you’re selected, you get to go to a lot of presentations, speeches, and listen to recitals. That is a big learning opportunity.”

Song, Shih, and Liu all said they were surprised when they were selected for this honor, but remain humbled to have made it to the semifinal round.

William Shih

William Shih

“I am very thrilled to be able to be part of a program that recognizes so many different, amazing people,” Liu said. “It would be so amazing to say that I was chosen as a scholar because it’s an honor to be in a category with all these amazing people, and it would be very cool to go to Washington D.C. to meet all of these fantastic people across the nation.”

However, Shih said their honor is a direct reflection of the education they have received from District 211.

“I think this is a testament to how great our school is, and a testament to how great the teachers are, and how good the education is here,” he said.