Vermont’s Presidential Scholars recognized at the Statehouse

Published: Jan. 30, 2023 at 11:51 PM EST
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MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) - Exceptional talent and leadership are just a few qualities of Vermont’s Presidential Scholars. On Monday, 14 students received the prestigious recognition. There were also a handful of honorable mentions.

Students can become Presidential Scholars for general academic success, a scholar in the arts or in career technical education.

Vermont Secretary of Education Dan French says he’s impressed with the recipients.

“It’s just so impressive to hear all the things these kids do, again, in the context of the pandemic,” French said.

Vermont’s best and brightest high school seniors are being recognized for their hard work. Presidential Scholar recipients like Madeline Pike were nominated not just for their academic abilities, but for how they used their skills to help the community.

“I sent in my application, waited the few weeks,” Pike said. “I was very anxious about it because I was very excited.”

Pike is president of Richford High School’s National Honor Society chapter, but she also established a volunteer program for her peers to help coach sports.

“I just felt like there should be more,” Pike said. “In my community, there’s not a lot of money but there are a lot of students interested in sports that don’t get the opportunity.”

Hayden Jessiman, a Mount Mansfield Union senior and Burlington Technical Center student was nominated by his teacher, Ashley Stagner. His design skills were put to work helping Camp Ta-Kum-Ta raise money for a firepit area by creating renderings to show potential donors.

“Being able to be a part of that was such an amazing feeling,” Jessiman said. “Knowing I helped something so profound was just really... amazing.”

“This is a kid who has gone above and beyond the pursuit of his arts education,” Stagner said. “Like he has sought out every opportunity he can then extends it beyond himself.”

Along with Pike and Jessiman were some proud parents and friends.

“He spends hours and hours drawing and he’s worked so hard at perfecting his craft,” Jessiman’s mom, Noreen Pirog, said.

“It’s just a remarkable accomplishment for all the kids here,” said Chris Pike, Madeline’s dad. “I’m very, very proud of my daughter.”

“It just makes you so happy for the future seeing all the things they’ve accomplished,” French said.

As for what’s next, Pike and Jessiman say they’re planning on college. A full list of this year’s presidential scholars and a bit about them is below.