3 Beaufort County students nominated for U.S. Presidential Scholar honor

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The Beaufort County School District has selected three high school seniors to compete for prestigious U.S. Presidential Scholar Awards.

Joshua Aiken of Beaufort High School, Lawren Caldwell of Whale Branch Early College High School and Alondra Carrion Cruz of Bluffton High School have been selected to represent the district as candidates for nominations.

The U.S. Presidential Scholars Program was established by President Lyndon Johnson in 1964. Since that time, the program has honored more than 7,000 high school seniors based on outstanding scholarship. 

Since 2013, state education superintendents have been invited to nominate candidates from their states for the Academic/General Component category, and beginning in 2016, outstanding students who demonstrated excellence in Career and Technical Education (CTE) were included for recognition. 

Aiken and Caldwell were selected among applicants based on criteria to include: involvement and service (in school and community); leadership and character; high academic achievements; and consideration for extraordinary achievement for possible challenges or hurdles overcome while still achieving high success.

Aiken’s passion for academics, basketball, volunteering and extracurricular activities make him an outstanding scholar. In addition to maintaining high academic achievement, he volunteers at one of the district’s elementary schools to help younger students to read.

Caldwell is currently ranked No. 1 in her class at Whale Branch and is on track to graduate with an Associates Degree in Art and an Associates Degree in Science in addition to earning her high school diploma. She currently serves as the captain for her school’s JROTC program. 

Carrion Cruz was selected among applicants based on criteria to include academic achievement in career and technical programs; mastery of technical skills demanded by industry; demonstration of employability skills to include professional skills for teamwork, decision-making, and problem-solving; and ingenuity and creativity in which students have solved a real-world problem through the application of technical skills they developed in their career area. 

Carrion Cruz is a Career and Technical Education completer with Bluffton High School’s Fire Fighter program and has interned with the Bluffton Township Fire District. Not long after earning her firefighter certification, Cruz used her CPR skills to resuscitate a person who had collapsed at a movie theater. Upon graduation, her goals are to work with a fire department and train to be an emergency medical technician.

The Beaufort County School District has submitted these three students’ applications to a South Carolina Department of Education committee that will select semifinalists to represent South Carolina. Nominees chosen to represent the state will receive an expense-paid trip to Washington in June and will be presented with the U.S. Presidential Scholars medallion at a ceremony sponsored by the White House.

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