Overland Park & Leawood

State’s three Presidential Scholars are all from Johnson County

Updated: 2013-05-15T04:10:23Z

By SARA BEANE

Special to The Star

Three Johnson County high school seniors are being honored with one of the most elite academic honors in the country.

Gavri Schreiber of Blue Valley North, Jean Song of Blue Valley Northwest and Cassie Wang of Olathe Northwest are three of only 141 seniors nationwide to be named a 2013 U.S. Presidential Scholar.

Presidential Scholars can be chosen based on a wide range of criteria, including SAT and ACT scores, school transcripts and evaluations, artistic excellence, essays, leadership and community service. One male and one female student are chosen from each state. This year, Kansas received a third at-large scholar as well and all of the state’s scholars were from Johnson County.

More than 3,300 candidates nationwide qualified for consideration of the award by receiving a perfect score on their SAT or ACT. Schreiber of Blue Valley North was among them.

“It is an honor to be recognized among such high quality scholars,” Schreiber said.

Schreiber, Song and Wang will each receive a Presidential Scholar medallion during a ceremony in Washington, D.C., on June 16. Schreiber, who will begin college at the University of Maryland in the fall, is looking forward to the opportunity to network with other presidential scholars during the trip.

“Hopefully I can use this honor as a platform to go out into the world and fulfill some of my goals,” Schreiber said.

Schreiber said he was both humbled and surprised by the honor.

“To find out that I was recognized felt like a validation of the hard work that I put in for the last four years,” Schreiber said.

Jean Song of Blue Valley Northwest was equally surprised when she received the news that she was being honored as a Presidential Scholar in academics. Coincidentally, she found out while she was in the middle of taking one of her AP exams at school.

“Right after the test proctor announced that we would be taking a short break, a staff member from my school ran up to me and told me the great news,” Song said. “Needless to say, I was utterly shocked and felt so honored to be in such a distinguished group of young people. My reaction involved a lot of smiling and jumping up and down.”

Like Schreiber, Song said the award is proof that hard work does pay off. She will attend the University of California, Berkeley, in the fall and plans to study economics.

“If I can achieve such an amazing honor with what I have done up until now, I can’t wait to see where my dedication will take me next,” Song said.

For Cassie Wang of Olathe Northwest, dedication to both academics and community service resulted in her being included in the 49th class of U.S. Presidential Scholars. She said she was as surprised as the others to be included in this prestigious group.

“Being recognized for both education and extracurricular work is a reminder to keep doing what you love and the awards will come with it,” Wang said.

Wang will attend Harvard University in the fall and is considering economics as her major. She is grateful for recognition like this that helps her feel like she is on the correct path.

“I have worked very hard to position myself for the future,” Wang said. “It is kind of like a nice pat on the back that I am being reassured that I am heading in the right direction.”

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