Mounds View, Century high school students selected as US Presidential Scholars

Two students, one from Mounds View High School and another from Century High School, in Rochester, have been named a part of the 56th class of U.S. Presidential Scholars Thursday.

The two students, Aunika Zheng of Mounds View High School and Benjamin Bin Yan of Century High School, were among the 161 high school seniors honored by the program this year. According to the Minnesota Department of Education, scholars were recognized for their demonstration of leadership, scholarship, contribution to school and community, and outstanding accomplishments in the arts, sciences, humanities and other fields of interest.

“Congratulations to Aunika and Benjamin for this extraordinary recognition,” said Minnesota Education Commissioner Mary Cathryn Ricker. “I admire your true dedication to serving your communities and your excellence in academics. We can’t wait to see what you both will accomplish next!”

The Commission of Presidential Scholars recognizes students 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.

Created in 1964, the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program has honored thousands of the nation's top-performing high school seniors. 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.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, scholars will not be able to convene in Washington, D.C., for the National Recognition Program this summer. According to a news release, plans are underway for an online ceremony.