Grand Forks Central student named Presidential Scholar

Kirkeby has been selected as one of 20 students named as Presidential Scholars in Career and Technical Education (CTE) in the country.

Grand Forks Central High School
Grand Forks Herald file photo of Grand Forks Central High School

GRAND FORKS — Kaylee Mae Kirkeby, a senior at Grand Forks Central High School, is one of three North Dakota high school students to be named as U.S. Presidential Scholars.

Kirkeby has been selected as one of 20 students named as Presidential Scholars in Career and Technical Education (CTE) in the country.

She is among 161 students nationwide in total to receive the Presidential Scholar designation, which recognizes accomplishments in academic, the arts and career and technical education.

“Kaylee embodies the outstanding student leaders we have within CTE,”  Eric Ripley, executive director of CTE and technology, said in a news release. “Kaylee has demonstrated outstanding success in her marketing education and medical careers courses, serving as a leader in both aligned student organizations of DECA and HOSA. To be selected in the CTE category is well-deserved recognition for her accomplishments, but also credit to the high-quality CTE students and staff we are fortunate to have within Grand Forks Public Schools.”

One young man and one young woman from each state, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, and U.S. families living abroad, are chosen to be Presidential Scholars, as well as 15 chosen at-large, 20 scholars in the arts, and 20 scholars in CTE. They are selected on the basis of academic success, artistic and technical excellence, essays, school evaluations and transcripts, as well as a demonstrated commitment to community service and leadership.


Of the 3.7 million students who are expected to graduate from high school this year, more than 5,000 candidates qualified for the 2023 awards, determined by outstanding performance on the College Board SAT or ACT exams and through nominations made by chief state school officers, other partner organizations and YoungArts, the national Foundation for the Advancement of Artists.

The final selections are made by the White House Commission on Presidential Scholars, a group of individuals appointed by the president.

“U.S. Presidential Scholars have always represented the future of our country and the bright promise it holds,” U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said in a news release. “I want each of these remarkable students to know: your passion and intellect, pursuit of excellence, and spirit of service are exactly what our country needs.”

North Dakota School Superintendent Kirsten Baesler said in a news release, “Being named as a Presidential Scholar is a capstone achievement for any high school student. Congratulations to these young people for attaining this honor, and I join them, their families, their teachers, their friends, and the state of North Dakota in celebrating it.”

The other North Dakota students who were named Presidential Scholars are Srinath Kandooru and Annelise Klein; both attend Century High School in Bismarck.

In Grand Forks, past U.S. Presidential Scholars are: Dennis Du, in 2021; Gary Wu, CTE, in 2020; and Evan Welsh, CTE, in 2017, according to Grand Forks Public Schools. All were Grand Forks Central High School students.

Pamela Knudson is a features and arts/entertainment writer for the Grand Forks Herald.

She has worked for the Herald since 2011 and has covered a wide variety of topics, including the latest performances in the region and health topics.

Pamela can be reached at or (701) 780-1107.
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