On Thursday, May 21, 2020, the White House Commission on Presidential Scholars announced that Ryan McCord ’20 has been named a 2020 U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts. Nationwide, only 20 high school seniors are selected for this honor. Ryan is the second consecutive Marksmen to be named a Presidential Scholar in the Arts, following Kyle Smith ’19. Both submitted artwork under the photography category.
“Ryan has an uncanny ability to connect with his photographic subjects, evoking an emotional intensity and curiosity that plays very well with his audience,” said Scott Hunt, Arnold E. Holtberg Master Teaching Chair and St. Mark’s photography instructor. “Whether documenting rural America, conservation efforts in Zimbabwe and Botswana, the rich culture of Morocco, or producing evocative environmental portraits of teenagers, Ryan uses the camera as a catalyst for discovery.”
Earlier this year, Ryan 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.
Ryan is the fifth St. Mark’s senior to be named a Presidential Scholar in recent years, joining Galen Gao ’12 and fellow Presidential Scholars in the Arts Connor Watumull ’10, Austin Taylor ’10, and Kyle Smith ’19.
Mr. Hunt added, “To have two students selected to be a Presidential Scholar in the Arts in back-to-back years is unimaginable, but a testament to the talent, intellect, and ingenuity our boys apply across all disciplines.”
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.”