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 Friday, Nov. 30, ten MSMS students—seniors Edith Marie Green, Indu Nandula, and Ashely Nguyen and juniors Ryley Fallon, David Barber, Simeon Gates, Ayden Dusek, Gina Nguyen, Kaitlyn Steil, and Catherine Boltz—volunteered at the Columbus Walmart and Kroger as bellringers to raise money for the Salvation Army. Students worked diligently from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., some donning Santa hats in the Christmas spirit.

The annual event was sponsored this year by Ms. Latoya Bledsoe, Goen Hall Director and a large support of service-related activities at MSMS. “For service to be one of the pillars of MSMS, I am an advocate for giving back and providing opportunities for our students to volunteer. It doesn’t cost a thing to serve.”

“It felt great to be giving back,” volunteer Indu Nandula expressed. “At one point we were singing Christmas carols… and one woman came and sang with us. That encounter alone made the whole event so worth it… and very rewarding.”

Volunteers were able to receive wellness credit hours for participating. On Dec. 7, Ms. Bledsoe is planning to take another group of 17 MSMS students to raise money by bellringing at the local grocery stores again.

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 students. MSMS is ranked the no. 6 best public high school in the nation and the faculty was ranked no. 1 as the best public high school teachers in the nation by Niche.

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