Avon Lake High School Senior Named Presidential Scholar

Audrey Spensley

Audrey Spensley

Audrey Spensley, a senior at Avon Lake High School, has been named a 2016 U.S. Presidential Scholar. She is among160 high school seniors from across the nation, and those studying abroad, who were named as Presidential Scholars last week.

Last month 800 semifinalists were named. The White House Commission on Presidential Scholars continued to narrow the field to the final 160 Presidential Scholars. Ohio boasts a total of six scholars. Spensley is a U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts. There are also scholars in Career and Technical Education.

“We are very proud of Audrey as she has worked hard to achieve this honor,” said Dr. Brad Cocco, Avon Lake High School principal. “It is truly an achievement to be recognized on a national level. She deserves it. She has also received multiple offers to attend some of the most prestigious universities in the country.”

Spensley plans to attend Princeton University in the fall and is interested in pursuing a career in law. She is also a National Merit Scholarship Finalist.

“I was extremely surprised,” said Spensley. “The application process was actually spread out over the course of a few years, because as an Arts scholar you first have to win the YoungArts competition and attend National YoungArts Week in Miami, Florida, which I did under the Writing division. Then, as a senior, there are interviews and essays to complete–so it’s a long and nerve-wracking process. I feel very lucky to have been picked as there were many other candidates equally or more qualified.”

In addition to a full course-load of Advanced Placement (AP) classes at the high school, her extracurricular activities include editor of the school newspaper, founding member of the school’s Book Club, track, cross country, National Honor Society, Key Club, Chamber Orchestra, Principal’s Leadership Group, Girl Scouts, and PALS Club. She has clocked more than 100 hours of community service by volunteering through Girl Scouts, Key Club and PALS Club.

“I also review submissions for a literary journal called, The Adroit Journal, and participated in their online mentorship program over the summer, which definitely had a major impact on my writing,” she said. “It was very exciting to find a community of people who were also serious about writing.”

The U.S. Presidential Scholars Program was established in 1964, by executive order of the President, to recognize and honor some of our nation’s most distinguished graduating high school seniors. In 1979, the program was extended to recognize students who demonstrate exceptional talent in the visual, creative and performing arts. The scholars have all demonstrated leadership, scholarship, contribution to school and community, and outstanding accomplishments in the arts, sciences, humanities, and other fields of interest. In 2015, the program was again extended to recognize students who demonstrate ability and accomplishment in career and technical education fields. Each year, up to 161 students are named as Presidential Scholars, one of the nation’s highest honors for high school students.

Each year more than 4,000 students are identified for the program that focuses on academic achievement and based on having scored exceptionally well on the SAT or the ACT. Candidacy materials are mailed to students for participation in the program. Applications are by invitation-only, students do not apply individually for the program, nor do their school nominate them. For the arts component of the program, students are individually selected based on their artistic ability. Students must register for and participate in YoungArts, a national program identifying and recognizing young people demonstrating excellence in the arts. Upon completion of the YoungArts program, the National YoungArts Foundation nominates approximately 60 students who meet the U.S. Presidential Scholars candidacy requirements.

In being named a Presidential Scholar, Spensely was also able to nominate Avon Lake High School English teacher Jeffrey Arra as a Distinguished Teacher. Arra is also the school’s newspaper adviser.

The Presidential Scholars are invited to Washington, D.C., in June to participate in the National Recognition Program (NRP). A high point of NRP will be the presentation of the U.S. Presidential Scholar medallion to each scholar.

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