WASHINGTON -- Calling on America's youth to "aim for the top," U.S. Secretary of Education Lamar Alexander honored five of Maryland's best and brightest students and their teachers yesterday with a luncheon at the Marriott Hotel.
Then today at the White House, President Bush was presenting 141 Presidential scholars, including three scholars from Towson High School and one each from the Baltimore School for the Arts and Frederick's Linganore High School, with a medal, a handshake and $1,000 from the Geraldine Dodge Foundation of New Jersey.
To achieve "presidential" status, the students had to have a score of 1,500 or better on the Standardized Achievement Test. They then had to complete forms, recommendations and essays on leadership to become finalists.
Of 1,500 original nominees, the 141 honorees were selected to travelto Washington to meet with members of Congress this week. Each student selected a favorite teacher as an escort for yesterday's event.
"It hasn't been easy," said Jeanne K. Wilmot, who along with fellow Towson High senior Kyle L. Kinsella was chosen for achievement in art. "I think professors tend to look at us and say, 'Oh, that's an art kid.' They single us out to work us harder."
Keyontia R. Hawkins, 17, chosen from the Baltimore School for the Arts, sang two solo arias Monday night at the Concert Hall at Kennedy Center.
Wesley S. Chan, Towson High's presidential math honoree, attributed his success to calculus professor Craig Laferty.
"He teaches both English and calculus," Chan said. "It made dry mathematic principles so much easier to understand when his language skills allowed me to visualize them."
"That's not true," Laferty said. "Wesley could have learned math from anyone. I stand in awe of Wes."