Washington, DC (KROC AM News)  -  A Rochester high school student has won a prestigious honor - but may have to wait for the recognition ceremony because of the coronavirus crisis. 

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos Thursday announced the 56th class of U.S. Presidential Scholars, recognizing 161 high school seniors for their accomplishments in academics, the arts, and career and technical education fields.

On the list of this year’s honorees is Century senior Benjamin Bin Yan. He was nominated by Jered Bright, a mathematics instructor at University of Minnesota-Rochester.

The other honoree from Minnesota was Aunika Zheng from Mounds View High School.

There were two other Rochester candidates this year: Hemanth Asirvatham, also from Century and Clara Xu from Mayo High School.

The Presidential Scholars Class of 2020 will be recognized for their outstanding achievement this summer as public health circumstances permit. In most years, honorees receive an expense-paid trip to Washington, D. C. in June and are presented the U.S. Presidential Scholars medallion at a ceremony sponsored by the White House.

During their visit to Washington, Scholars have access to important national and international figures, including government officials, educators, authors, musicians, scientists and other accomplished people. Scholars are provided opportunities to: wrestle with issues that concern America and the world; attend recitals, receptions and ceremonies held in their honor; and visit area museums and monuments. But perhaps the greatest benefit to the Scholars, and the one they most often remark on, is the chance to exchange ideas with similarly motivated and accomplished peers, and to forge friendships that last a lifetime.

The White House Commission on Presidential Scholars selects scholars annually based on their academic success, artistic and technical excellence, essays, school evaluations, and transcripts, as well as evidence of community service, leadership, and demonstrated commitment to high ideals.

Of the 3.6 million students expected to graduate from high school this year, more than 5,300 candidates qualified for the 2020 awards determined by outstanding performance on the College Board SAT or ACT exams or through nominations made by Chief State School Officers, other partner recognition organizations and the National YoungArts Foundation's nationwide YoungArts™ competition.

Created in 1964, the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program has honored over 7,600 of the nation's top-performing students. The program was expanded in 1979 to recognize students who demonstrate exceptional talent in the visual, literary and performing arts. In 2015, the program was again extended to recognize students who demonstrate ability and accomplishment in career and technical education fields.

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