Categorized | Education

Sims, Gregg named 2013 U.S. Presidential Scholars

Hawaii 24/7 Staff

Two Big Island high school seniors have been named 2013 U.S. Presidential Scholars.

Zoe Sims, 17, of Hawaii Preparatory Academy, and Paul Gregg, 17, of Parker School, were the only two students included in the list from Hawaii.

They were among the 141 students recognized for their accomplishments in academics or the arts. The announcement of the 49th class of U.S. Presidential Scholars was made by U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

Sims is HPA’s second consecutive U.S. Presidential Scholar in this prestigious program. Last year, HPA’s Kyle Matsuda was named a 2012 U.S. Presidential Scholar. Matsuda is now studying at Harvard University.

“Presidential Scholars demonstrate the accomplishments that can be made when students challenge themselves, set the highest standards, and commit themselves to excellence,” Duncan said. “I’m honored to celebrate their creativity, hard work, and community service, and I encourage them—and all students—to continue to showcase the capacity for greatness in our nation’s young people.”

Said HPA Headmaster Lindsay Barnes of Sims, “Zoe is everything a faculty member or administrator could want in a student. She has taken full advantage of all the curricular and extracurricular opportunities that a well-rounded school like HPA offers. We are so proud of, and happy for, Zoe. A more deserving recipient I cannot possibly imagine.”

Sims, who also is a finalist in the 58th annual National Merit Scholarship Program, is well known in the running community as one of the state’s top harriers. She was the 2011 individual BIIF cross country champion and went on with her teammates to take the 2011 state championship.

This year, as a captain of the girls cross country team, Sims won the BIIF championship and placed fifth at the state championship. In track, Sims won her first state title in 2011 in the 1500m.

On May 4, Sims, who captains the track team, set the BIIF record in the 1500m and took multiple BIIF championships in the 1500m, 800m, and the 4×400.

Sims is the Student Council President and a member of Cum Laude, the school’s honor society. She is the recipient of numerous academic awards, including the school’s John L. Pricher Award, the Mount Holyoke Book Award, Calculus Honors Award, Cathy Schmidel Award for Excellence in Social Science, and Bausch & Lomb Junior Science Scholar.

She also was one of five grand prize winners of the APEC 2011 High School Essay Contest. The essay contest winners had the unprecedented opportunity to hear from President Barack Obama, President Hu Jintao of China, and other world leaders and global chief executive officers attending the APEC CEO Summit in November 2011.

Sims is the daughter of Neil and Kathryn Sims of Kailua-Kona. She will attend Princeton University this fall, where she also will compete on the Tigers’ cross country and track teams.

Gregg participated in soccer and cross country, and also competed on the school’s debate team, qualifying this year for the national debate competition.

He is a founding member and co-president of the International Thespian Society and has been actively involved in Dramatiques, Parker’s after-school drama program, for four years, currently serving as musical director. In addition, he is an accomplished singer and musician who primarily plays piano, but also guitar, ukulele, and violin.

He plans to attend Stanford and possibly focusing on the mathematics field.

The White House Commission on Presidential Scholars, appointed by President Obama, selects honored scholars annually based on their academic success, artistic excellence, essays, school evaluations and transcripts, as well as evidence of community service, leadership, and demonstrated commitment to high ideals.

Of the three million students expected to graduate from high school this year, more than 3,300 candidates qualified for the 2013 awards determined by outstanding performance on the College Board SAT and ACT exams, and through nominations made by Chief State School Officers or the National YoungArts Foundation’s nationwide YoungArts competition.

The 2013 U.S. Presidential Scholars are comprised of one young man and one young woman from each state, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, and from U.S. families living abroad, as well as 15 chosen at-large and 20 U.S. Presidential Scholars in the Arts.

Created in 1964, the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program has honored more than 6,000 of the nation’s top-performing students with the prestigious award given to honorees during the annual ceremony in D.C. The program was expanded in 1979 to recognize students who demonstrate exceptional talent in the visual, literary and performing arts.

The 2013 ceremony will be held June 16, when each honoree will receive a Presidential Scholar Medallion.

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