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Paducah Tilghman’s Criner and Katz Named US Presidential Scholar Program Semifinalists

Kathleen Criner and Andrew Katz, seniors at Paducah Tilghman High School, have been named two of 621 semifinalists in the 2020 US Presidential Scholars Program. The semifinalists were selected from nearly 5,600 candidates. Criner and Kate are among only nine Kentucky high school seniors to receive the distinction, and west Kentucky’s only semifinalists. 

The US 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 for their accomplishments in many areas: academic success, leadership, and service to school and community. 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. Annually, up to 161 US Presidential Scholars are chosen from that year’s senior class, representing excellence in education and the promise of greatness in America’s youth. All Scholars are invited to Washington, DC, in June for the National Recognition Program, featuring various events and enrichment activities culminating in the presentation of the Presidential Scholar Medallion during a White House-sponsored ceremony.

Criner is an AP Scholar with Distinction and a Paducah Bank Teen of the Week. She is the captain of the Paducah Tilghman Speech and Debate Team, the girls Varsity Tennis Team, and the Future Problem Solving Team. Through speech she was awarded the National Speech and Debate Degree of Special Distinction and is a member of the Kentucky All-State Speech Team. She is also a member of Mock Trial, Interact Club, PT Ambassadors, Tilghman Tellers, Beta Club, National Honor Society and Varsity Academic Team. Criner currently ranks first in the state for mock trial. She received the Daughters of the American Revolution Good Citizen Award in recognition of her commitment to her community. She is a dedicated volunteer to the Yeiser Art Center, the Trinity United Methodist Church band, and the Empty Bowls Project. She has served as the merchandise manager for the Paducah Chiefs since 2016. She is a member of the PTHS Honor Wind Ensemble and the Band of Blue Pep Band. Criner is a Paducah Human Rights Commission intern and serving as a chair of the PHRC Student Intern Youth Involvement Project. She is a Coca-Cola Scholarship Scholar and an alumna of both the Governor's Scholars Program and Youth LEAD. Criner is the founder of the teen-driven mental health initiative Loqui, and a sitting member of the Provider Enrichment Services Board. She is the daughter of Janie and Andy Criner. Criner will attend the University of Louisville in the fall.

Katz is an AP Scholar and a Paducah Bank Teen of the Week. He is the Editor-in-Chief of the Tilghman Bell, captain of the Mock Trial Team, and the treasurer of Paducah Tilghman's Interact Club. He also serves as a PT Ambassador, member of the National Honor Society, and as a member of the Future Business Leaders of America. He has served as an intern for the Paducah Human Rights Commission for two years and is a chair of the PHRC Student Intern Youth Involvement Project. Katz is a four-year member of the Paducah Tilghman Varsity Tennis Team, and he has served as a captain for the boys tennis team the last two years. He has been a long-time volunteer at St. Vincent de Paul and Starfish Orphan Ministry. Through the Interact Club and Starfish Orphan Ministry he has gone on two mission trips to El Salvador. He spent two summers at The School of the New York Times, taking courses in Sports Media and Management as well as Sports Statistics. Most recently, he was accepted to the Kentucky Governor’s Scholar Program, but spent his summer as a student at the Medill Northwestern Journalism Institute. He is an alumnus of the Paducah Area Chamber of Commerce’s Youth LEAD. He is the son of Mary and Brian Katz. Katz will attend Northwestern University in the fall.

“This distinction is a tremendous honor for Kate and Andrew as well as for Paducah Tilghman High School,” said Principal Allison Stieg. “Both students embody the high ideals championed at PTHS, and to be recognized at the highest national level speaks volumes about their work ethic and character. I am very proud of them as is the entire Tilghman community.”

Posted Monday, May 4, 2020