Pelham teen a candidate for one of high school’s highest honors

Published 1:09 pm Friday, February 3, 2017

PELHAM – Pelham native and high school senior Lindsey Waggoner achieved a feat reserved for the most elite students in the United States. She was recently named as a U.S. Presidential Scholar candidate.

Waggoner, a flutist in the Music Department at the Alabama School of Fine Arts in Birmingham, is one of only 89 students in Alabama selected as U.S. Presidential Scholar candidates.

All high school seniors in the U.S. who took either the ACT or the SAT are automatically considered for participation in the U.S. Presidential Scholar program. The U.S. Department of Education then selects examinees in each state to be candidates.

Waggoner, daughter of Tommy and Tina Waggoner, scored a perfect score of 36 on the ACT when she took it for the first time as a junior in 2016. Waggoner is also a semifinalist in the National Merit Scholarship Program and will soon know if she is a finalist, which would open the door for more scholarship opportunities.

Waggoner is set to attend Auburn University on a full tuition scholarship in the fall to study aerospace engineering. Waggoner said she plans to continue to playing the flute in the college’s orchestra, but will not pursue it as a major or minor.

“It’s certainly nice to know that some of my hard work has paid off,” Waggoner said about her achievements. “It’s a tremendous honor, and I’m so thankful for the encouragement from my family and teachers at ASFA.”

Waggoner said her accomplishments say as much about all of them as it does about her. She said her family has been extremely supportive throughout her high school career, and this is no different.

Kimberly Strickland, chair of the Music Department at ASFA, said Waggoner has been a member of her flute studio since starting the program in the seventh grade.

“She is by far one of the brightest students I’ve had the pleasure of teaching over my 18-year career, and it’s been a pleasure to watch her blossom,” Strickland said. “As a senior this year, she has set major goals for the year that I’ve seen her achieve with hard work, dedication and grace.  From making a perfect score on the ACT, to winning the Lois Pickard Concerto Competition sponsored by the Alabama Symphony Orchestra’s Symphony Volunteer Council – Lindsey is a shining star and makes ASFA proud!”

Among ACT test takers in the high school graduating class of 2015, only 1,598 of more than 1.92 million students earned an ACT Composite score of 36.

Each year, up to 161 students are named as Presidential Scholars, one of the nation’s highest honors for high school students.

The U.S. Presidential Scholars Program was established in 1964, by executive order of the President, to recognize and honor some of the nation’s most distinguished graduating high school seniors.

In 1979, the program was extended to recognize students who demonstrate exceptional talent in 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.