Two Mississippi teens were named recipients of one of the USA’s highest academic honors for high school students Tuesday, according to the Mississippi Department of Education.

West Lauderdale High School senior Kelly Bates and Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science senior Braeden Foldenauer were selected as 2017 Presidential Scholars, MDE announced in a release.

“I am proud of our Mississippi scholars and congratulate them for earning this national recognition,” state superintendent of education Carey Wright said in the release. “These students have demonstrated their commitment to leadership, scholarship and excellence, and have established a strong foundation for their college careers.”

The U.S. Presidential Scholars Program was established in 1964, and honors students across the country for their outstanding academic achievement, accomplishments in technical education or “artistic scholarship in the visual arts, the performing arts, or creative writing,” according to the program.

This year, Bates and Foldenauer were two of 161 students selected from across the country. As recipients, both are invited to a White House-sponsored recognition ceremony in June, the release said.


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Kayleigh Skinner joined the Mississippi Today team in January 2017 as an education and legislative reporter and advanced to a senior staff member in her four years with the company. Before joining Mississippi Today, Kayleigh worked at The Hechinger Report, Chalkbeat Tennessee, and The Commercial Appeal. She has appeared on MSNBC, NPR, and BBC Newsday Radio to discuss her reporting.