Of the hundreds of thousands of seniors who graduate from high school this year, only a select handful -- 141 to be precise -- will be welcomed to the White House in June as the 2001 Presidential Scholars. And this year, one of those scholars will be from the Mahoning Valley.
In the 37 years of the Presidential Scholar Program, 121 young men and women have been selected from Ohio. And of those, only three have graduated from local schools. In 1971, Nancy L. King of Liberty High School received the nation's highest honor for graduating seniors. Twenty years later, in 1991, Bradley Abruzzi of Howland High School was chosen. Now, after a decade, Talya C. Havice of Champion High School has joined the ranks of Presidential Scholars. Havice, her family and her school are to be commended for such a stellar achievement.
The Presidential Scholar Program was established in 1964 by President Lyndon Johnson, who recognized that it was in the national interest for the federal government to encourage high attainment by students in secondary schools throughout the nation.
Each year, the U.S. Department of Education looks at the SAT and ACT test records of the top males and top females in each state, choosing 20 of each for candidacy. The candidates must then submit materials, including essays, self-assessments, secondary school reports, and transcripts. Candidates are evaluated on their academic achievement, personal characteristics, leadership and service activities, and an analysis of their essay. Finally the top young women and men are chosen from each state, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbus, with up to 15 more selected at large and and another 15 who qualify on the basis of their academic and artistic scholarship in the visual arts, the performing arts, or creative writing.
Valedictorian: Today, Havice is graduating as valedictorian from Champion High School at Packard Music Hall. In the fall, she'll be a freshman at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass. There are 123 in her graduating class; she's likely to find at least double that number in a Harvard lecture hall. But we have no doubt she'll be able to make the transition.
Havice embodies the ideals of the well-rounded student. She plays in the band and is its president. She's a distance runner and was stage manager for the school's play and musical. She holds office in two other clubs and participates in all the academic teams. And on top of that, she works evenings at the public library and attends classes part-time at Kent State's Trumbull campus as a post-secondary student.
Few students can attain the heights reached by Talya Havice. But each student can work to the best of his or her ability -- to reach a potential perhaps never imagined.