Avinash Paul named Presidential Scholars candidate

The Quakertown Community High School senior is among only nine students from Bucks County school districts to receive an invitation to the prestigious program.
Posted on 01/26/2022
Avinash PaulBy Gary Weckselblatt

Quakertown Community High School senior Avinash Paul has been selected as a candidate for the United States Presidential Scholars Program.

He is among 5,000 students invited to apply for the program by the White House Commission on Presidential Scholars, which said the candidates “represent excellence in education and the promise of greatness in young people.” Each year, up to 161 students are named Presidential Scholars, one of the nation's highest honors for high school students.

“There are so many bright kids in this whole country, this is incredible,” said Avinash, describing the feeling of being in this position as one of “elation.” He said an uncle on his mother’s side of the family was a Presidential Scholar. “Maybe it’s in the genes,” he said. “No matter how hard-working I am, I am so thankful for my friends, family, and the teachers in Quakertown. I couldn’t have done this without them.”

Of the invitees, 149 are from Pennsylvania. Avinash is among only nine students from Bucks County school districts to receive an invitation.

“This is both a very rare and extraordinary honor for Avi, and I’m so proud of him,” Principal Mattias van't Hoenderdaal said. “These accomplishments don’t happen by accident. Avi has worked very hard to receive this invitation, which is a testament to his effort, and the outstanding job our teachers are doing in the classroom. Avi is developing himself into a responsible adult and will have wonderful opportunities in the future. He is a fine example for our students to follow.”

School Counselor Eric Gozzard described Avinash as “extremely goal-oriented. In my 12 years as a school counselor, I have not had a Presidential Scholar Candidate. So this is a big deal! He has worked so hard and been so focused on his future. I really hope he earns this award.”

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.

A year ago, QCHS had two Presidential Scholar candidates, Matthew Catalano, the class valedictorian, and Raymond Slifer, also a student at Upper Bucks County Technical School. Raymond became Pennsylvania’s first President Scholar for technical excellence.

Avinash’s candidacy for such a rare award is not a surprise. In the fall, Avinash was named a semifinalist in the 2022 National Merit Scholarship Program. He has a 4.25 grade point average and scored 1590 out of 1600 on the SAT. “I got that one math question wrong,” he said.

Avinash is certainly willing to challenge himself in the classroom. He’s part of the school’s Medical Career Pathways Program, which includes taking college courses twice a week and job shadowing at St. Luke's Hospital’s Upper Bucks Campus. In addition, he is taking Advanced Placement Statistics and AP Physics plus English and Political Science honor classes.

He describes Quakertown’s teachers as “pretty incredible. They know what they’re talking about and love teaching what they teach. That’s the best part.”

Jason Anderson, who had Avinash in his AP World History class, called him “a model student. He takes initiative in his own education and loves spreading his knowledge to others. I’m very proud of what Avinash has accomplished. He’s very deserving.”

Avinash has lofty goals. He’s applied to Amherst, Brown, Colgate, Haverford, Penn State, Vassar and William & Mary. Whichever school he attends will have accepted him into its accelerated medical program, he said.

“I’m not sure what kind of doctor I’ll be,” he said, “but I want to study neuroscience.”

The Scholars Program was established in 1964, by executive order of the President, to recognize and honor some of our 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. In 2015, the program was again extended to recognize students who demonstrate ability and accomplishment in career and technical education fields.

To be eligible to advance in the Presidential Scholars Program, students must fill out an application that includes essays, self-assessments, secondary school reports and additional documents by February 24.

Gary Weckselblatt, QCSD Director of Communications, writes about the people and the programs that impact the Quakertown Community School District. He can be reached at 215-529-2028 or [email protected].

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