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Posted on Sat, May 11, 2013 : 1:30 p.m.

2 Ann Arbor seniors named U.S. Presidential Scholars among 141 students nationwide

By Danielle Arndt

Two students from the Ann Arbor Public Schools recently were named among an elite group of high school seniors.


Ann Arbor Huron student Valerie Peng returns the ball in a tennis match against Pioneer in May 2012.

Angela Cesere | file photo

Daniel Rothchild from Pioneer High School and Valerie Peng from Huron High School have been recognized as U.S. Presidential Scholars.

Just 141 students nationwide received the honor for 2013, out of an initial pool of more than 3,300 seniors.

The U.S. Presidential Scholars Program is not a scholarship program, but rather a recognition program.

Winners receive an expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C. and are presented with a medallion in commemoration of their achievements during an award ceremony sponsored by the White House. The 2013 ceremony will take place June 16.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, who made a visit to Ypsilanti Monday, announced the 2013 Presidential Scholars Program winners earlier this month.

Daniel Rothchild.jpg

Pioneer senior Daniel Rothchild

Courtesy of John Rothchild

"Presidential Scholars demonstrate the accomplishments that can be made when students challenge themselves, set the highest standards, and commit themselves to excellence," he said. "I'm honored to celebrate their creativity, hard work, and community service, and I encourage them — and all students — to continue to showcase the capacity for greatness in our nation's young people."

Typically, there are just two winners from each state — one boy and one girl — making the odds of having two Presidential Scholars from a single school district quite small. However, Michigan had three students selected this year, Rothchild, Peng and a female student from Traverse City Public Schools.

Candidates for the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program are determined by outstanding performances on the College Board ACT and SAT exams. The candidates then undergo a rigorous screening and application process that includes several essays; evaluation of their high school transcripts, academic and artistic excellence; as well as looks for evidence of community service, leadership and a demonstrated commitment to high ideals, according to its website.

Both Peng and Rothchild also recently won $2,500 college scholarships through the National Merit Scholarship Corporation's annual competition.

Danielle Arndt covers K-12 education for Follow her on Twitter @DanielleArndt or email her at


Tony Livingston

Sun, May 12, 2013 : 4:22 p.m.

There is so much talent in Ann Arbor and it is wonderful to see these kids going through the public school system and doing so well. I hope our schools can continue to attract the best and the brightest!

Dog Guy

Sat, May 11, 2013 : 7:27 p.m.

Hearty congratulations to Ann Arbor's Presidential Scholars! Would that the Presidential Presidents selection process were as rigorous.


Sun, May 12, 2013 : 4:14 p.m.

Just couldn't appreciate the accomplishments of these kids without having to gratuitously offensive, could you?

Christine Stead

Sat, May 11, 2013 : 6:38 p.m.

Congratulations to both students! We are proud of you - and the excellence in achievement and education you have accomplished.

Ross Dunbar

Sat, May 11, 2013 : 6:29 p.m.

Congratulations to these two extraordinary students! Also thank you to their teachers at Huron and Pioneer, and to the community of Ann Arbor that helped support them along the way.