Millard North students honored as Nebraska’s presidential scholars

Two Millard North High School students were honored Thursday as U.S. Presidential Scholars.
Published: May. 11, 2023 at 6:11 PM CDT
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MILLARD, Neb. (WOWT) - It was senior honors night at Millard North High School, and for two, the honors come all the way from Washington, D.C.

17-year-old Sarah Wood and 18-year-old Abhirup Are have been named U.S. Presidential Scholars representing the state of Nebraska. That includes a future trip to the White House, for starters.

“It’s just a really cool event because you get to meet all the other scholars and the alumni of the program,” Wood said. “And you get a fancy medal, but you gotta love those, great for grad parties, and overall it’s just a really great way to connect to some peers and stuff from across the nation that normally you just wouldn’t have access to.”

“I was a little surprised, I’m not gonna lie,” Are said. “I put in the work, but I’d be lying if I said it was expected.”

Of the 3.7 million graduating seniors in the U.S. this year, there are only 161 Presidential Scholars.

Principal Aaron Bearinger said they are the seventh and eighth Mustangs to receive the honor, and it’s the first time Millard North has claimed both state honorees in the same year.

“I don’t really realize often that North is a public school, it doesn’t really happen upon me, because this is such a good school that I don’t have to compare it to a private school,” Are said. “I think that just really goes to show how great the academic community is here at Millard North and I think one of the biggest things that’s been driving me this past four years is the students that I’m surrounded around because they always push me to be a better version of myself.”

“I try not to put too much pressure on myself,” Wood said. “I’ve just always really loved reading when I was super little, reading at an insane level and things like that and I’ve always really loved learning, which sounds a little stupid to say as a high school senior but I do really enjoy learning and so I try and just experience high school like anyone else would.”

Like anyone else would with a perfect A.C.T. score. For Sarah, that means competitive rock climbing.

“It’s been super cool,” she said. “I’ve been doing it and climbing in general for like six years now and it’s like one of my favorite things that I look forward to.”

“Outside of school I am a black belt in taekwondo, that’s something I love to do,” Are said. “I also like to play tennis and then some of my favorite hobbies would be watching movies, I’m a big movie guy.”

Sarah is headed to the University of Minnesota to pursue global studies and mathematics, while Abhi will attend Northwestern to study chemistry and medicine.

The students are selected each year by the White House Commission on Presidential Scholars based on academic successes as well as artistic and technical excellence. Applicants must submit essays, school evaluations, and transcripts, and must also demonstrate a commitment to community service and leadership.

“The 2023 U.S. Presidential Scholars are comprised of one young man and one young woman from each state, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, and U.S. families living abroad, as well as 15 chosen at-large, 20 scholars in the arts and 20 scholars in career and technical education,” according to a Wednesday release from the Nebraska Department of Education.

All of the students honored will be recognized for their achievements during an online program set for this summer.

Correction: A previous version of this story indicated an incorrect age for one of the students. 6 News regrets the error.