2 QCHS students Presidential Scholar candidates

Matt Catalano and Raymond Slifer are the only students from Upper Bucks County to receive invitations to this prestigious program.
Posted on 01/28/2021
Raymond Slifer of Quakertown Community High School and the Upper Bucks County Technical School, has been invited to participate in the Presidential Scholars Program.By Gary Weckselblatt

Two Quakertown Community High School students have been selected as candidates for the United States Presidential Scholars Program. The outstanding seniors are Matt Catalano and Raymond Slifer, who also attends Upper Bucks County Technical School.

The two QCHS students are among more than 4,500 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.

Of the invitees, 175 are from Pennsylvania. Matt and Raymond are among only 21 Bucks County students to receive an invitation. They are the only two from Upper Bucks County. In addition to Quakertown, Central Bucks, Council Rock, Neshaminy and New Hope-Solebury are the other Bucks County districts to have students invited. The George School and LaSalle College High School are also represented.

“This is both a very rare and extraordinary honor for these students, and I’m so proud of them,” Principal Mattias van't Hoenderdaal said. “These accomplishments don’t happen by accident. They have worked very hard to receive these invitations, which are a testament to their efforts, and the outstanding job our teachers are doing in the classroom. Matt and Raymond are developing themselves into responsible adults and will have wonderful opportunities in the future. They are fine examples for our students to follow.”

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.

Matt Catalano is a candidate for the Presidential Scholars Program.In the fall, Matt was awarded a Letter of Commendation for his exceptional academic promise from the 2021 National Merit Scholarship Program. He is taking five Advanced Placement classes: U.S. Government, English Literature, Computer Science, Physics C and Statistics. A varsity basketball player, he is also president of the Key Club and National Honors Society and a member of Student Council. Matt is considering majoring in Finance and attending MIT, Penn or Villanova.

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. That’s where Raymond excels. He is the first UBCTS Presidential Scholar candidate.

A Machining Technologies student, Raymond is a Cooperative Education student trainee employed by Bracalente Manufacturing Group in Trumbauersville. He is a tool room technician and has received all excellent evaluations from his employer He has also excelled in the Machining Technologies Program, earning the OSHA 10 Safety Certification and several National Institute of Metal Working Skills Certifications. He was named a member of the National Technical Honor Society and has competed and placed at SkillsUSA machining competitions at the district and state levels.

Raymond, an Eagle Scout, is a junior firefighter with the Richlandtown Fire Co. He is enrolled in the UBCTS/Bucks County Community College Technical Entrepreneurship Program and will seek his associate’s degree upon graduation. He will then transfer to Pennsylvania College of Technology and major in Manufacturing Engineering.

“The Upper Bucks County Technical School community could not be more proud of Raymond,” UBCTS Executive Director Jeff Sweda said. “This is a tremendous achievement reserved for a select few students. Raymond exemplifies what it means to be a career and technical education student at the highest level and is well-deserving of this extraordinary opportunity.”

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 gweckselblatt@qcsd.org.
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