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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.



On Tuesday, February 21, 2017, 600 of Mississippi’s top high school mathematicians took part in the annual mu-alpha-theta math tournament hosted by the Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science.

“They do win medals and trophies, but the big thing for us really is not about the trophies, it’s about getting people excited about mathematics,” said MSMS Director for Academic Affairs, Kelly Brown.

More than a dozen public and private schools from all over Mississippi took part in the event. These mathletes competed to see who could solve mathematical puzzles the fastest, answer the most questions correctly, and generally show their mathematical mastery.

“A lot of the students are having fun and we are having fun,” said MSMS student Ariel Williams. “It’s cool to see it all work together, because it’s been a year in the making. We have a nice system that flows pretty effortlessly.”

MSMS students do not compete in the event, rather, the school’s students facilitate the tournament and create the puzzles and questions the competitors must solve.

“You have so many people rushing to get in an answer. You really have to stay on your toes and pay attention to make sure you know who got it in first,” said MSMS student David Thaggard.

The math tournament, which began shortly after MSMS was founded in 1987, is the school’s longest-lived outreach program.

This year’s top prize for overall success was Jackson Prep. Northwest Rankin High School took second and St. Andrews took third.

The Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science is Mississippi’s only public, residential high school specifically designed to meet the needs of the state’s most academically gifted and talented. For more information about MSMS, please visit