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Three School District Five seniors named semifinalists in 2020 U.S. Presidential Scholars Program

For Immediate Release – May 5, 2020



Three School District Five seniors named semifinalists in 2020 U.S. Presidential Scholars Program

IRMO – Three Lexington-Richland School District Five seniors have been nominated for one of the highest honors for the graduating class of 2020.


Lauren Chen (Dutch Fork High), Kelsey Krusen (Spring Hill High), and Janette Hasol Park (Dutch Fork High) have been named semifinalists in the 2020 U.S. Presidential Scholars Program.

This is the 56th U.S. Presidential Scholars Program being held and a top honor to hold as a graduating high school senior, the class of 2020 is made up of 621 semifinalists.  It was created to recognize and honor some of the Nation’s most distinguished graduating high school seniors.

“I am really excited to represent both Dutch Fork and South Carolina as a U.S. Presidential Scholarship Semifinalist,” Chen said. “I am so grateful for all the opportunities Dutch Fork has given me throughout high school to thrive academically and prepare me for my future endeavors. This honor also represents all the support I have received here, without which it would not be possible.”  Chen will be attending Harvard University this fall to study mathematics.


Kelsey Krusen will be attending the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.  She said, "I am deeply honored to be named as a Semifinalist for U.S. Presidential Scholar in Career and Technical Education, but I couldn't have gotten this far without the support of the Biomedical Science Program and Dr. Al Gates at the Center for Advanced Technical Studies. The Center and School District Five have given me countless opportunities to set me apart, whether it be supporting me to run for SC HOSA State Reporter, or the District 5 Foundation providing grants for my research projects. I would like to thank specifically Dr. Gates for nominating me for the U.S. Presidential Scholar Program, none of this would have been possible without him."


Janette Park said, “I feel extremely honored and grateful to be selected as a Semifinalist. Whether I receive the final award or not, I am very thankful for my secondary school experiences and all of those around me, including my family, school, teachers, and friends, who have helped me make it this far.”


Park plans to attend Massachusetts Institute of Technology with a major in the college's interdisciplinary Electrical Engineering and Computer Science program.

Students can become Presidential Scholars based on three paths of accomplishment, broad academic achievement, academic and artistic achievement in visual and performing arts or creative writing and outstanding accomplishments in career and technical education fields.


“I could not be more proud of these three students for earning this very prestigious recognition,” School District Five Chief Instructional Officer Michael Guliano said.  “Earning this honor took a lot of hard work, perseverance, and commitment of time.  This is a special moment for these fine students and their families.”

Next month, the Commission on Presidential Scholars will review the applications of all semifinalists based on the same criteria used by the initial review committee. The Commission selects up to 161 U.S. Presidential Scholars each year. All scholars are honored for their accomplishments during the National Recognition Program, held in June in Washington, D.C. To commemorate their achievement. The Scholars are awarded the U.S. Presidential Scholars medallion at a ceremony sponsored by the White House.