U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan to Deliver Remarks at Presidential Scholars Medallion Ceremony Saturday; Attend Scholars Performance on Monday

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U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan will honor high school graduates named as 2012 U.S. Presidential Scholars during Washington D.C. events taking place this Saturday, June 16 and Monday, June 18.

On Saturday night, Duncan will participate in a ceremony at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C. He will congratulate the scholars, among the nation’s most distinguished graduating high school seniors, for their outstanding academic and artistic achievements, their leadership, and their public service. During the ceremony, each scholar will be presented with the Presidential Scholar Medallion, on behalf of the White House.

On Monday night, Duncan will attend a Kennedy Center performance of the U.S. Presidential Scholars in the arts, also being recognized for their artistic achievements. The Kennedy Center performances will feature original artistic collaborations created, composed, arranged, written, and choreographed by student artists over the past week. In addition to the performances, the evening will feature remarks by legendary pianist and composer Herbie Hancock, and an introduction of all the 2012 U.S. Presidential Scholars. A complete list is available at http://www.ed.gov/programs/psp/awards.html

The 141 U.S. Presidential Scholars of 2012 were announced May 2. The White House Commission on Presidential Scholars, appointed by President Obama, selects honored scholars annually based on their academic success, artistic excellence, essays, school evaluations and transcripts, as well as evidence of community service, leadership, and demonstrated commitment to high ideals. Of the three million students expected to graduate from high school this year, more than 3,300 candidates qualified for the 2012 awards determined by outstanding performance on the College Board SAT and ACT exams, and through nominations made by the Chief State School Officers or the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts’ national YoungArts™ program.

Art scholars contributing to Monday's Kennedy Center performance and their discipline areas includes: Kimberly Hou, Arlington, Va. – Music, Piano; Martin Jaffe, Conway, Mass. – Jazz, Double Bass; Kelsey Kessell, Cutler Bay, Fla. – Voice, Popular; Amanda Krische, Glendale, N.Y. – Dance, Modern; Kelsey Lauritano, San Francisco, Calif. – Voice, Mezzo-soprano; Michael Leadbetter, Rochester, N.Y. – Theater, Spoken and Musical; Taylor Rodman, Coppell, Texas – Dance, Choreography; Laila Smith, San Jose, Calif. – Voice, Jazz Voice; Jessica Suhr, Miami, Fla. – Visual Arts; Lathan Vargason, Lewisport, Ky. – Visual Arts.