Amy Zhang among Mississippi's Nine U.S. Presidential Scholar Semifinalists

JACKSON, Miss. –  The Mississippi Department of Education (MDE) announced today that the outgoing Mississippi State Board of Education (SBE) senior student representative Amy Zhang of Starkville is one of nine Mississippi students selected as semifinalists for the 2022 U.S. Presidential Scholars Program. The program honors the nation’s most distinguished graduating high school seniors.

Amy attends the Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science in Columbus. She was appointed as the SBE junior representative in 2020. 

Mississippi’s other U.S. Presidential Scholar semifinalists for 2022 are listed below:

  • Dia Chawla of Pillow Academy in Greenwood
  • Kylar DeLoach of Enterprise High School in Enterprise
  • Jeffrey Jordan of Jackson Preparatory School in Jackson
  • Sarah Leroux of Madison Central High School in Madison
  • Madeline Pitre of Biloxi High School in Biloxi
  • Wesley Smalley of Florence High School in Florence
  • Ritchie Yang of Petal High School in Petal
  • Yujie Yang of Oak Grove High School in Hattiesburg

Madeline and Ritchie, along with Amy, are also members of MDE’s Student Advisory Council.

Mississippi’s semifinalists were selected from among more than 5,000 candidates nationwide. A total of 620 high school seniors were selected as semifinalists for 2022. These students form the pool from which the 2022 U.S. Presidential Scholars will be chosen.

The 2022 Presidential Scholars are chosen on the basis of their accomplishments in many areas – academic and artistic success, accomplishment in career and technical fields, leadership, and involvement in school and the community. The scholars represent excellence in education and the promise of greatness in America’s young people.

“Mississippi is represented well among the nation’s top high school scholars once again,” said Dr. Carey Wright, state superintendent of education. “I join with these students’ families, teachers, schools and communities in congratulating them for receiving this national recognition.”

Created in 1964, the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program honors the nation’s top-performing students with the prestigious award given to honorees during the annual ceremony in D.C. The program was later expanded to recognize students who demonstrate exceptional talent in the arts and career and technical education fields. The 2022 U.S. Presidential Scholars will be announced in mid-May.



Twenty-one current Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science students won forty-seven Scholastic Art & Writing awards for their literary works. All regional winners have been invited to the Regional Awards Ceremony on April 14 to receive their awards at the Eudora Welty House and Gardens in Jackson. The works of the eleven Gold Key Award winners (Christian Couvillion, Ryley Fallon, Victoria Gong, Catherine Li, Michelle Luo, Indu Nandula, Helen Peng, Sarah Perry, Sophie Tipton, Victoria Waller, and Audrey Wohlscheid) will advance to national adjudication. The National Medalists will be announced on March 13 and will be recognized in part at the National Ceremony at Carnegie Hall in New York City.

Emma Richardson, MSMS English Instructor expressed, “It’s gratifying that readers and judges beyond our school recognize the excellence in our students’ work.” She added, “Winning awards in the Scholastic Writing & Art Awards program, the oldest and most prestigious writing competition for high school students in the United States, is validation of the good work our students produce.” All winners are students of Mrs. Emma Richardson’s Creative Writing classes.

The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards program is the oldest and most prestigious writing competition for high school students in America. 


Catherine Li—Poetry: A Blend of Two Cultures

Indu Nandula— Personal Essay/Memoir: Red Birds & Potato Curry               


Victoria Gong–-Gold Key – toasted marshmallows and gochi seeds


Christian Couvillion—Personal Essay/Memoir Kick Kick Kaboom Boom

Ryley Fallon—Personal Essay/Memoir: “Lip-Plumping Lip Gloss and North Carolina”
Short Story: Lucille Hammond’s Magic

Victoria Gong— Short Story: Game of Life

Catherine Li—Poetry A Blend of Two Cultures

Michelle Luo –Flash Fiction Mud Dauber | Poetry closed eyes

Indu Nandula— Personal Essay/Memoir Red Birds & Potato Curry

Helen Peng— Poetry Chinaman; Lonely

Sarah Perry— Poetry a brother; fourth of july; summertime

Sophie Tipton— Short Story All the Way Home

Victoria Waller—Personal Essay/Memoir Second Belly-Button

Audrey Wohlscheid—Personal Essay/Memoir Real Death Experiences


Landon Alexander— Short Story: Leaving Home

Aja Ceesay— Personal Essay/Memoir: Be Grateful

Morgan Emokpae—Poetry: Organic Organism

Ryley Fallon—Poetry: “A Golden Arm”

Chylar Gibson—Poetry: Beautiful Sister; One Sound

Victoria Gong– Flash Fiction: Monsoon Season
Journalism: ‘Lady Bird’ and the Teenage Condition
Personal Essay/Memoir: Knockout
Poetry: whalesong; White Picket Fences
Short Story: Medea; portrait of drowning youth, summer 1937 River Gordon—Poetry: Heat

Neziah Igwebuike—Poetry: December

Michelle Luo– Short Story: Indian Highway Poetry wrought iron woman

Jessikah Morton—Poetry: It’s Not Just Me

Indu Nandula—Personal Essay/Memoir: The Picture I See Poetry The Old Guitarist

Helen Peng— Flash Fiction: Saigon
Poetry: The Creek Beside San Marcos Drive; Watermelons

Mildred Perdue—Poetry: Dear Mr. President

Madison Wypyski—Short Story: Heath Ledger and Hip-Hugging Jeans; Virginia Slims and Irish Spring


Morgan Emokpae— Poetry Aint Edna

Victoria Gong— Personal Essay/Memoir: Confessions of a Masochist
Poetry: graham bell; grandma mangosteen; maria; Signals

Neziah Igwebuike—Poetry: Mary of Nazareth

Michelle Luo— Poetry: Palette

Jessikah Morton—Poetry: He’s a Window Washer

Indu Nandula— Personal Essay/Memoir: Learning

Helen Peng— Poetry: Dear Mississippi; Paper Cranes

Likhitha Polepalli—Personal Essay/Memoir: Embracing Myself

Madison Wypyski—Poetry: Marlboro Burns