Kentwood High’s Zerr named U.S. Presidential Scholar semifinalist

One of nearly 625 chosen from 6,500 candidates across the nation

Kentwood High School senior Avery Zerr has been chosen as a semifinalist as part of the 2021 U.S. Presidential Scholars Program.

Zerr recently received notice from the program that she is among approximately 625 semifinalists from a pool of nearly 6,500 candidates. She is one of 14 semifinalists from Washington and the only one from South King County.

The Commission on U.S. Presidential Scholars will soon complete its selection of the high school seniors who will be named as the 2021 scholars. The Commission’s choices will be announced in mid-May by the U.S. Secretary of Education.

“It is a great honor and an exceptional accomplishment to have reached the semifinalist phase in this highly selective and prestigious program,” the Commission said in an email to Zerr. “Most of all, thank you for the creativity, discipline, and pursuit of excellence you have shown in your various endeavors, and for the inspiration your example provides to countless other young people.”

Up to 161 scholars will be chosen from this year’s senior class, representing excellence in education and the promise of greatness in America’s youth, according to the group’s website. The Commission on Presidential Scholars, a group of up to 32 eminent citizens appointed by the president, will select the finalists.

“We are very happy and excited for her and are thinking good thoughts as the final results will be determined in the middle of May,” said her mother Tracy Zerr in an email.

In January, Zerr was announced as one of 60 Presidential Scholars in the Arts candidates. Zerr received her nomination after participating virtually Jan. 4-9 in YoungArts Week. She would have traveled to Miami for the week, but due to COVID-19 it became a virtual event.

A total of 144 students were part of that group, in 10 fields of the arts. Zerr was one of 14 artists picked in the dance field and one of two choreographers.

Candidacy materials are mailed to students for participation in the program. Application is by invitation only; students do not apply individually to the program, nor do their schools nominate them.

The U.S. Presidential Scholars Program was established in 1964 by executive order of the president to recognize some of our nation’s most distinguished graduating seniors for their accomplishments in many areas: academic success, leadership, and service to school and community. It was expanded in 1979 to recognize students demonstrating exceptional scholarship and talent in the visual, creative and performing arts.

If circumstances permit, all scholars will be invited to Washington, D.C. in June for the National Recognition Program, featuring various events and enrichment activities and culminating in the presentation of the Presidential Scholars Medallion during a White House-sponsored ceremony.

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