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Two Baltimore County high school students named U.S. Presidential Scholars for 2021

Two Baltimore County high school seniors are being recognized for their success in academics by being named in the 57th class of the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program, U.S. Secretary of Education Dr. Miguel Cardona announced Thursday.

The students, Kathy Yao, a Lutherville resident who attends Dulaney High School in Timonium, and Avinash J. Thakkar, from Rosedale, who attends McDonogh School in Owings Mills, represent two of five students chosen from the state of Maryland. Yao is a U.S. Presidential Scholar in Career and Technical Education.

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The Commission on Presidential Scholars selects students based on their academic success, artistic and technical excellence, essays, school evaluations, transcripts, community service, leadership, and demonstrated commitment to high ideals, the release states.

Annually, up to 161 high school seniors across the country are chosen each year for this prestigious list.

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“I am delighted to join President [Joe] Biden in saluting these outstanding young people for their achievements, service, character and continued pursuit of excellence. Their examples make me proud and hopeful about the future,” Cardona said in a statement. “Honoring them can remind us all of the great potential in each new generation and renew our commitment to helping them achieve their dreams.”

The U.S. Presidential Scholars Program was established in 1964 to honor the nation’s top performing students, expanding in 1979 to recognize students who demonstrate exceptional talent in the visual, literary and performing arts. The program expanded again in 2015 to acknowledge the students who demonstrate ability in career and technical education fields.

Awards are determined by outstanding performance on the College Board SAT or ACT exams, nominations made by Chief State School Officers, partner recognition organizations, and the National YoungArts Foundation.

The other Maryland scholars selected include Saanika Mahashetty from Richard Montgomery High School in Rockville, Marvin Li from James M. Bennett High School in Salisbury and Sahil Patel from North Point High School in Waldorf.

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