By: Sharon Aron Baron
This year, out of the 4,000 seniors that were selected as candidates for the prestigious 2015 U.S. Presidential Scholars Program only four of them were from Broward County, and one of them is a senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
Steven Norwalk along with three other students from Cypress Bay High School were selected on the basis of superior academic and artistic achievements, leadership qualities, strong character, and involvement in the community and school activities.
Steven achieved something that most would find almost impossible: he earned perfect scores on both the reading and math portions of his SAT’s. And he did it on one try – without so much as a prep course either.
This gifted student was surprised when he received the letter congratulating him. “My mom gave me the letter. I was taken aback because I forgot about it. I was pretty happy,” he said. “She was very proud.”
Steven, who lives in Parkland with parents Laura and Richard Norwalk also has an older brother and sister, however, he is the only one in his family to become a U.S. Presidential Scholars Program Candidate.
But it’s not all academics for Steven. He spends time as the Activities Coordinator for Best Buddies, a nonprofit organization where he volunteers with people with intellectual and developmental disabilities where he has had a buddy with the program for four years. He is also President of the National Honor Society and enjoys playing classical piano and guitar in his free time.
Steven has already been accepted to Georgetown University, University of Chicago, and University of Virginia, but is still waiting on many more out there. “I don’t have a dream college that I’m interested in, I’m letting the cards fall. I’m sure the decision will be made for me depending on where I’m accepted or denied.”
In April, the 3,900 candidates will be whittled down by a distinguished panel of educators who review candidate submissions to select approximately 560 semifinalists. The White House Commission on Presidential Scholars, a group of eminent citizens appointed by the President, will then select this year’s Presidential Scholars which could be up to 141 winners. Those winners will be announced in May.
All scholars are honored during National Recognition Weekend, held in June in Washington, DC. U.S. Presidential Scholars are guests of the Commission and enjoy an expense-paid trip to Washington DC, to meet with government officials, educators, authors, musicians, scientists and other accomplished people. Scholars have the opportunity to visit museums and monuments, and attend recitals, receptions and ceremonies. To commemorate their achievement, the Scholars are awarded the Presidential Scholars Medallion during a ceremony sponsored by the White House.
Steven said that he couldn’t have gotten this far without some help. “I really appreciate my parents that supported me, and my brother and sister that guided me and my teachers at Douglas that have always been very helpful academically.”
Other Broward County Public School candidates include Cypress Bay High School Seniors: Robert L. Arnott, Caterina Golner, and Alison Huang.