Parker School senior Lysha Matsunobu has been selected as a 2014 U.S. Presidential Scholars Program semifinalist. Out of close to 3.2 million graduating high school seniors from across the U.S., more than 4,000 were identified as candidates for the program. Matsunobu is one of 565 semifinalists selected from this group and the only one from Hawaii Island, and one of six from the state.
The U.S. Presidential Scholars Program began in 1964 to “recognize and honor some of our nation’s most distinguished graduating high school seniors” and it is one of the nation’s highest honors for high school students. Scholars are selected “on the basis of superior achievements, leadership qualities, personal character, and involvement in community and school activities,” according to the U.S. Presidential Scholars Office. “Semifinalists are chosen by a panel of distinguished educators after a review of students’ essays, self-assessments, descriptions of activities, school recommendations, and school transcripts.
“Final selection of the scholars will be made by the Commission of Presidential Scholars, a group of eminent citizens appointed by the President, and will be announced in May. The Commission will select one young man and one young woman from each state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and U.S. students living abroad; up to 20 students representing the visual, literary and performing arts; and 15 students at-large. Scholars will be invited to Washington, D.C. in June to receive the U.S. Presidential Scholars medallion at a recognition ceremony and to participate in various activities and events held in their honor.”
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 and she was a presenter at the Galaxy Forum in Waimea in November. At the Galaxy Forum, she was the only student presenter and presented alongside accomplished scientists and teachers.
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.