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4 Gatton Academy Seniors Recognized as U.S. Presidential Scholar Candidates

4 Gatton Academy Seniors Recognized as U.S. Presidential Scholar Candidates

Four Gatton Academy seniors learned recently they are candidates for the 2017 United States Presidential Scholars.

The U.S. Presidential Scholars Program was established in 1964, by executive order of the President, to recognize and honor some of the nation’s most distinguished graduating high school seniors.

The 2017 candidates for the U.S. Presidential Scholar from The Gatton Academy are:

  • Alexander Banaszak, son of Terry and Colleen Banaszak, from Oldham County High School.
  • Aaron Kirtland, son of Robert and Rebecca Kirtland, from South Oldham High School.
  • John “Caleb” Stickney, son of Jack and Teresa Stickney, from Estill County High School.
  • Patricia “Tricia” Thompson, daughter of Albert and Molly Thompson, from Owensboro Catholic High School.

The White House Commission on Presidential Scholars’ review committee selects honored scholars annually based on their academic achievement, personal characteristics, leadership, and service activities, in addition to the quality and content of their essays.

Each year, more than 4,000 candidates are identified for the component of the program that focuses on academic achievement and based on having scored exceptionally well on the SAT or the ACT. Eligible students are U.S. citizens and legal permanent U.S. residents who will graduate or receive their high school diploma between January and August of the current program year, and have taken the ACT or SAT assessment on or before October of the previous year.

“Kentucky’s investment in the development of students’ talents is recognized when highly capable students are selected as candidates for this prestigious national program,” said Dr. Lynette Breedlove, Director of The Gatton Academy. “These students are strong representatives of our state and their communities. They seek out opportunities to challenge themselves through in-depth research, study abroad, and challenging curriculum. We are very proud of the hard work these students do every day.”

From here, approximately 800 students will be named semifinalists, and up to 161 students will be recognized in May as Presidential Scholars. The majority of the Scholars will be selected on the basis of broad academic achievement. Approximately 20 students are selected on the basis of their academic and artistic scholarship in the visual arts, the performing arts or creative writing. Additionally, approximately 20 additional students will be selected on the basis of their ability and accomplishment in career and technical education fields.

If a student is selected as a U.S. Presidential Scholar, they will be honored in Washington, D.C. in June. During this trip, U.S. Presidential Scholars are guests of the U.S. Department of Education and the Commission and enjoy an expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C. to meet with government officials, educators, and other accomplished people. To commemorate their achievement, the Scholars are awarded the Presidential Scholars Medallion at a ceremony sponsored by the White House.

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 to the Washington Post’s list of top-performing schools with elite students for eight consecutive years and was 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.

Contact Zack Ryle, (270) 745-2971 or; or U.S. Education Department Press Office, (202) 401-1576 or

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 Last Modified 5/2/17