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Six seniors named candidates for U.S. Presidential Scholars Program


Six academically talented high school seniors have been selected as candidates for the 2018 U.S. Presidential Scholars Program, one of the nation’s highest honors for high school students.
The students are Michael Smith from Richland Northeast High School; Malika Lightbourne from Ridge View High School; and Vinita Cheepurupalli, Ishita Kapoor, Gloria Kim, and Isaac S. Lee from Spring Valley High.
This honor is the latest in a long line of achievements for each.

Smith is an IB Diploma Candidate, Palmetto Fellow and an AP Scholar with Distinction. He was also the recipient of the Bausch and Lomb Honorary Science Award.

Lightbourne is an AP Scholar with Distinction. She received the 2017 RVHS Academic Award for Excellence in Math and the 2016 RVHS Academic Award for Excellence in Science.

Cheepurupalli is a National AP Scholar (one of only 43 in South Carolina), a National Merit Semifinalist, a Coca-Cola Semifinalist (selected from over 150,000 applicants), and a Regeneron Science Talent Search Semifinalist (one of 3 from SC). In the fall, she planned and executed a fundraiser called "Dance For a Smile" that raised over $5,300 to provide surgeries for children born with cleft palate.

Kapoor has excelled in her research as a Discovery student, earning first and second place overall in the 2016 and 2017 USC Region 2 Science and Engineering Fair, respectively, for her innovative nebulizer designs focused on improving the efficiency of asthma treatment. She also earned 3rd and 5th place, respectively, in the 2016 and 2017 SC Junior Science and Humanities Symposium (JSHS). At the National JSHS competition, she won first place for Biomedical Sciences in the poster session. Finally, she is an AP Scholar and earned the Spring Valley Future Viking Scientist Award last year.

A talented musician, Kim has earned a seat in the All-State band each of her years in high school, a challenging feat, particularly for a clarinetist. She is also a member of the Tri-M Music Honors Society, HOSA, the National Honor Society, the Science National Honor Society and earned the Spring Valley Linguist Award last year.

Lee, a National Merit Semifinalist, earned a perfect score on the ACT--less than one-tenth of one percent of students accomplish this feat.  In addition, he won second place in the Botany category for both his written research paper and his oral presentation at the 2016 South Carolina Junior Academy of Science (SCJAS) competition; for the 2017 SCJAS he earned second place for his written research paper, again in the Botany category. 

In mid-April, these candidates will learn if they are among the 800 students who will be named semifinalists. The U.S. Presidential Scholars will be announced in early May, and winners will be honored in Washington, D.C. Application to the program is by invitation only. Students are selected based on broad academic achievement; academic and artistic scholarship in the visual arts, the performing arts or creative writing; or outstanding scholarship and accomplishment in career and technical education fields.
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.