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Lysha Matsunobu named 2014 U.S. Presidential Scholar


U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan on May 5 announced the selection of Parker School senior Lysha Matsunobu as a 2014 U.S. Presidential Scholar.

Matsunobu 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 22-25.

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 3,900 candidates qualified for the 2014 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 2014 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.

Created in 1964, the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program has honored more than 6,500 of the nation’s top-performing students with the prestigious award given to honorees during the annual ceremony in D.C. 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. Matsunobu chose Parker English and history teacher Ruth Sturges for recognition.

Matsunobu, the daughter of Miriam and Neal Matsunobu of Kona, has also recently advanced as a National Merit finalist. As a student at Parker, she has been a Richard Smart Scholar, has earned the Yale Book Award, is an AP Scholar with Distinction, and has earned the National Forensics League Degree of Distinction for her accomplishments on the debate team. She is a member of the Parker School Investment Club, is National Honor Society President and Lincoln-Douglas Debate Captain.

Matsunobu has also recently appeared in the news for her science accomplishments—she attended the Summer Science Program in Santa Barbara last summer. SSP is “one of the oldest and most successful summer enrichment programs for academically gifted high school students” and Matsunobu was one of only 72 out of 742 national and international applicants accepted to attend. She was also a presenter at the Galaxy Forum in Waimea in November.

In 2010, Parker student Mary Kamitaki was selected as a U.S Presidential Scholar Program semifinalist and last year, Parker student Paul Gregg was named one of the two 2013 U.S. Presidential Scholars from Hawaii.