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South Dakota students named US Presidential Scholars

Department of Education

Two South Dakota students were named U.S. Presidential Scholars for this year. The national award recognizes the accomplishments of 161 high school seniors in academics, the arts and technical education fields.

Jordan Phillips from Central High School in Aberdeen and Davis Shafer from Washington High School in Sioux Falls received the honor out of more than 5,000 candidates. The finalists were announced today.

Shafer found out that he was a finalist during his biology class. He said the application process was grueling.

“I came in early, an hour early for school every day for two weeks and worked on the essays," Shafer said. "There were four short essays and one long essay you had to write, and it was definitely a grind but obviously it paid off.”

Students become candidates by scoring high on the SAT or ACT, or through nominations by school officers or other partner organizations. One young woman and one young man are chosen every year from each state along with a handful of at-large recipients.

The White House Commission on Presidential Scholars selects winners based on their academic success, artistic and technical excellence, essays, school evaluations and transcripts, as well as a demonstrated commitment to community service and leadership.

Laura (she/her) is based at the Sioux Falls Studio. She is a journalism/anthropology student at Augustana University.