Each year, the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program identifies and recognizes the nation’s top graduating seniors and selects up to 161 students to be named Presidential Scholars, one of the nation's highest honors for high school students. Of this year’s 3.6 million graduating high school seniors, 5,200 were identified as candidates and invited to apply. Eight members of the St. Mark’s Class of 2019 were among those candidates and, of those who applied, seniors Noah Carr and Kyle Smith were selected as two of the nation’s 638 semifinalists.
On Tuesday, May 7, 2019, the White House Commission on Presidential Scholars announced that Kyle Smith ’19 has been named a United States Presidential Scholar in the Arts.
“I am incredibly proud of both Kyle and Noah for earning such a significant national honor,” said Eugene McDermott Headmaster David Dini. “It is deeply gratifying to see Marksmen recognized for their hard work, their commitment to excellence, and their creativity.”
Earlier this year, Kyle was named a finalist in the photography category of the annual YoungArts competition. The National YoungArts Foundation serves as the exclusive nominating agency for the Presidential Scholars in the Arts, the country's highest honor for artistically talented high school seniors. Each year, YoungArts nominates 60 students to be Presidential Scholar Finalists and the Commission selects the final 20 Scholars based on artistic achievement, personal characteristics and leadership and service activities. In recognition of his impressive overall performance, the National YoungArts Foundation also presented Kyle with its highest Gold Award in Photography, along with a $10,000 check.
“Kyle is truly multifaceted. He is a man of compassion and empathy who seeks to bring attention to social, cultural and environmental challenges through inquisitive research and intelligent art,” said Scott Hunt, Arnold E. Holtberg Master Teaching Chair and St. Mark’s photography instructor. “As a photographer, Kyle uses the camera as a catalyst for discovery and connects with people or issues with compassion and empathy. He is genuinely inquisitive and strives to learn more at every turn.”
Kyle is the fourth St. Mark’s senior to be named a Presidential Scholar in the last decade, joining Galen Gao ’12 and fellow Presidential Scholars in the Arts Connor Watumull ’10 and Austin Taylor ’10. On June 23, he will attend a ceremony in Washington, D.C., where he will receive the Presidential Scholar Medallion.
Noah Carr was selected as a Presidential Scholar national semifinalist by a committee of education experts convened by the Department of Education’s Commission on Presidential Scholars. Noah’s selection was based on his academic achievement, personal characteristics, leadership and service activities, and an analysis of his entry essay.
The United States Presidential Scholars Program was established in 1964, by Executive Order of President Lyndon Johnson. It was amended in 1979 by President Jimmy Carter to include awards for “Special Capability in the Visual and Performing Arts and in Creative Writing.”