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.



This past Friday, February 16, the Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science sent two teams of current juniors and seniors to compete in the Mississippi Regional Science Bowl at the Mississippi University for Women. The Regional Science Bowl is a tournament-style academic competition open to 9-12 graders across the state of Mississippi and is intended to test students’ knowledge and application of a broad range of science and mathematics subjects. Both teams competed in a variety of qualifying rounds and advanced to single elimination rounds until they were the last two teams standing. In an exciting and nerve-racking final round, both MSMS teams faced off against one another to determine the winner of the Mississippi Regional Science Bowl. In the end, MSMS Team One comprised of Yousef Abu-Salah, William Johnson, Hamilton Wan, Gary Nguyen, and Maria Kaltchenko defeated MSMS Team Two comprised of Harpreet Singh, Vivienne Tenev, Dev Jaiswal, Michelle Luo, and Indu Nandula. Both teams were excellent competitors and demonstrated academic prowess and great sportsmanship.  

MSMS Team One will travel to Washington, D.C. in April to compete in the National Science Bowl. There, MSMS will face-off against teams from all across the United States in several face-paced question and answer rounds testing understanding and application of key areas of science such as biology, chemistry, earth science, physics, and energy.

A special thank you to Dr. Bill Odom and Dr. Lib Morgan for serving as the Science Bowl advisors and coaches.

Join us in congratulating Yousef, William, Hamilton, Gary, and Maria for their recent triumph at the Regional Science Bowl and wish them luck at the National Science Bowl!