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Scholastic honor given to 2 seniors

My Ngoc C. To

My Ngoc C. To

LAWRENCEVILLE -- Two Gwinnett County Public Schools students recently earned a prestigious honor that recognizes the nation's most distinguished graduating seniors.

My Ngoc C. To of Parkview High, who will attend Harvard University, and Matthew G. Faulkner of Shiloh High, who will attend Vanderbilt University, are part of a group of four high school seniors from Georgia chosen as U.S. Presidential Scholars. A total of 141 students earned the honor nationwide.

The White House Commission on Presidential Scholars selected the students 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, according to a news release.

Of the 3 million students expected to graduate from high school this year, more than 3,000 candidates qualified for the award on the basis of outstanding performance on the College Board SAT and ACT exams or by nomination through the nationwide YoungArts competition, conducted by the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts.

"My Ngoc is truly deserving of this prestigious scholarship," Parkview High School principal David Smith said. "In addition to being Parkview's valedictorian, she has won numerous awards for her art work and her writing. She has led our school's fundraising efforts for Haitian earthquake relief and has been a leader on our Relay For Life team.

"My Ngoc has been blessed with talent and, she works very hard to make the most of this talent."

Shiloh High School principal Gwen Tatum said Faulkner has pursued a diversified course of study that has included some of the school's most difficult courses.

"Matthew is friendly, outgoing, and is an inspiring individual," Tatum said of the school's salutatorian. "His personality is warm and pleasant which has assisted him in gaining admiration and respect from peers and adults. Because of his popularity and leadership abilities, he holds the office of vice president in Mu Alpha Theta, serves as a board officer for the Junior Beta Club (and is) a member of our Leadership Team, an active life ranked Boy Scout, captain of the varsity Scholars Bowl Team and ... a member of the varsity Tennis Team."

As part of the program, each Presidential Scholar has the opportunity to honor his or her most inspiring and challenging teacher by inviting the educator to accompany them to Washington, D.C. While in the nation's capital, the teacher receives a Teacher Recognition Award from the U.S. Department of Education.

To chose Parkview High language arts teacher Mary Lynn Huie, while Faulkner invited Shiloh High Advanced Placement Literature and Composition teacher Patrick Norton. All four will be honored for their accomplishments from June 19 to 22 in Washington, D.C.

The U.S. Presidential Scholars Program was established in 1964, by executive order of President Lyndon B. Johnson, to recognize and honor the nation's most distinguished graduating high school seniors. In 1979, the program was extended to recognize students who demonstrate exceptional talent in the visual, creative and performing arts.