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Three Kansas seniors named 2024 U.S. Presidential Scholars

TOPEKA — The White House Commission on Presidential Scholars has announced three Kansas seniors have been named as 2024 U.S. Presidential Scholars.

Anahi Sanchez, of Newton, a senior at Newton High School, Newton Unified School District 373; Ayaan Parikh, of Wichita, a senior at Wichita Collegiate School, in Wichita; and Paranjay Sharma, of Lenexa, a senior who attends The Barstow School, in Kansas City, Missouri, were selected from seven Kansas semi-finalists in April.

The U.S. Presidential Scholars Program honors the nation’s most distinguished graduating high school seniors for their accomplishments in academics, the arts and career and technical education (CTE) fields.

Blake Smith, principal of Newton High School, said Sanchez is “truly the definition of a student that 'leads by example'.” 

“Anahi's academic accomplishments reflect her determination and desire for rigor,” he said. 

Smith said Sanchez helped spearhead a fundraising campaign that raised thousands of dollars for a student in need, was recognized as a CTE scholar for her work in Newton High School’s pathways, and also gained recognition as part of Business Professionals of America, a career and technical student organization (CTSO).

“Anahi has the knowledge, heart, and desire to truly make an impact on the world after high school,” Smith added. “We are proud of her and excited to watch where she goes on this journey."

“We at Wichita Collegiate are so proud of Ayann and all that he has accomplished both at our school and in the Wichita community,” Nathan Washer, head of school at Wichita Collegiate, said of Parikh.

“We strive to prepare our students to lead lives of impact, and Ayann is already making a difference in meaningful ways to our community,” Washer added. “We are proud that one of our students has been recognized as a U.S. Presidential Scholar. It is well deserved.”

Shane Foster, president of The Barstow Schools, said the school is “deeply proud” of Sharma’s accomplishments.

“He is a scholar, a kind young man, and a leader who sets an example for all our students,” Foster said. “In the classroom, at debate tournaments, and on the golf course, he has exemplified our founding mission of ‘symmetrical development of mind, body, and character.’ Our entire school community celebrates and congratulates Paranjay on this prestigious honor.”

In addition to Sanchez, Parikh and Sharma, the other four 2024 Kansas semi-finalists are the following:

  • Kevin Li, of Overland Park - Blue Valley Northwest High School, Blue Valley USD 229
  • Katherine Josephine Murphy, of Mission Hills - Shawnee Mission East High School, Shawnee Mission USD 512
  • Benjamin Michael Soyka, of Fort Leavenworth - Leavenworth Senior High School, Leavenworth USD 453
  • Soumya Takalkar, of Stilwell - Blue Valley West High School, Blue Valley USD 229


More than 5,700 candidates qualified for the 2024 awards determined by outstanding performance on the College Board SAT or ACT exams or through nominations made by chief state school officers, other partner recognition organizations and YoungArts, the National Foundation for the Advancement of Artists.

In addition, all candidates have to submit essays, self-assessments, secondary school reports and transcripts for review to be considered for selection as a U.S. Presidential Scholar. The class of 2024 will be recognized for their outstanding achievement this summer with an online recognition program.

A complete list of 2024 U.S. Presidential Scholars candidates, semifinalists and finalists is available at http://www.ed.gov/psp



Posted: May 29, 2024,
Categories: KSDE,
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