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Gatton Academy senior named 2015 U.S. Presidential Scholar

Dimitri Leggas of Lexington, a senior at The Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science in Kentucky, was announced this week as a 2015 U.S. Presidential Scholar by U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

Dimitri Leggas

Dimitri Leggas

“I am incredibly honored to receive this recognition,” Leggas said. “It makes me proud to represent The Gatton Academy’s class of 2015 and all of our accomplishments. I am thankful for my family, peers, and teachers who have supported me, especially Mr. Zach Matson, my chemistry teacher at Lafayette High School, who encouraged me to pursue new challenges and helped me to see The Gatton Academy as the next step in my education. I owe my successes to The Gatton Academy staff and WKU faculty, who have offered me a flexible academic program and diverse opportunities.”

Leggas is one of 141 outstanding American high school seniors that have demonstrated outstanding academic achievement, artistic excellence, leadership, citizenship, service, and contribution to school and community. The U.S. Presidential Scholars will be honored for their accomplishments in Washington, D.C., from June 21-23.

“Presidential Scholars demonstrate the accomplishments that can be made when students challenge themselves, set the highest standards, and commit themselves to excellence,” Duncan said May 4 in a statement. “These scholars are poised to make their mark on our nation in every field imaginable: the arts and humanities, science and technology, law and medicine, business and finance, education and government—to name a few. Their academic and artistic achievements reflect a sense of purpose that we should seek to instill in all students to prepare them for college, careers, civic responsibilities, and the challenges of today’s job market.”

The White House Commission on Presidential Scholars, appointed by President Obama, selects honored scholars annually based on their academic success, artistic excellence, essays, school evaluations and transcripts, as well as evidence of community service, leadership, and demonstrated commitment to high ideals. Of the three million students expected to graduate from high school this year, more than 4,300 candidates qualified for the 2015 awards determined by outstanding performance on the College Board SAT and ACT exams, and through nominations made by Chief State School Officers or the National YoungArts Foundation’s nationwide YoungArts™ competition.

The 2015 U.S. Presidential Scholars are comprised of one young man and one young woman from each state, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, and from U.S. families living abroad, as well as 15 chosen at-large and 20 U.S. Presidential Scholars in the Arts.

“Dimitri Leggas is a remarkable young man,” Director of The Gatton Academy Dr. Lynette Breedlove said. “He has an earnest passion for critical thinking, analysis, and conceptualizing problems in various ways. A conversation with Dimitri will leave you energized and thinking about things in a new way. This recognition is an honor well earned.”

Created in 1964, the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program has honored almost 7,000 of the nation’s top-performing students with the prestigious award given to honorees during the annual ceremony. The program was expanded in 1979 to recognize students who demonstrate exceptional talent in the visual, literary and performing arts.

Since 1983, each Presidential Scholar has been offered the opportunity to name his or her most influential teacher. Each distinguished teacher is honored with a personal letter from the Secretary of Education. The teacher chosen by Leggas for recognition was Patricia Minter of WKU’s Department of History.

“In particular, I thank Dr. Patricia Minter, who has inspired me intellectually and pushed me academically,” Leggas said. “Due largely to her classes, I have more diverse interests that I plan to continue pursing in college. Dr. Minter was an invaluable resource during my college application and selection process. I am grateful for her guidance and support.”

For information, visit the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program.

About The Gatton Academy: Established in 2007, The Gatton Academy is Kentucky’s first residential high school for gifted and talented junior and seniors. The Gatton Academy’s students enroll as juniors and are full-time WKU students pursuing their interests in advanced science, technology, engineering and mathematical careers. The Gatton Academy has been named the number one public high school in the United States by The Daily Beast for three consecutive years – 2012, 2013 and 2014.

Contact: Zack Ryle, (270) 745-2971.

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