Punahou Senior Named Presidential Scholar

July 17, 2011

Harvard-bound Kimberly Schaefer ’11 was selected as a 2011 Presidential Scholar. She is one of two Hawai‘i high school seniors and among 141 students across the nation chosen from a pool of 3,000 qualifying graduating seniors.

Initiated in 1964, the Presidential Scholar Program recognizes the United States’ most distinguished high-school seniors, honoring students who demonstrate outstanding academic achievement, artistic excellence, leadership, citizenship, service and contributions to their schools and communities.

Schaefer has been involved in dance (ballet, tap and jazz) at Punahou for 13 years, is a member of the Punahou Dance Team, and performed in Hawai‘i Ballet Theatre’s “The Nutcracker.” She also created an after-school dance program, Dance Plus, at Palolo Elementary School, teaching 5 to 10-year-olds dance and rhythm. She participated in Punahou’s inaugural 2010 Student Global Leadership Institute, was a Luke Leader from grades 5 – 11, and a Key Club member from grades 9 – 11. The longtime violin and alto saxophone player also was a Lincoln-Douglas Debate team captain and a Carnival division head.

“I really share this honor with all the people who have supported me, believed in me, and guided me throughout my life – my mom, dad, family, friends and classmates, and the incredible teachers I have had throughout my Punahou experience,” said Schaefer.

Since 1983, each Presidential Scholar has invited his or her most inspiring teacher to travel to Washington, D.C., to receive a Teacher Recognition Award from the U.S. Department of Education and to participate in the recognition events. Academy Dean William Ouellette will accompany Schaefer on June 18, 2011. Not only does Schaefer credit Ouellette as her most influential teacher, she also recalls his kindness and early support since her freshman year. “What I remember most about his English class was the creative, stimulating atmosphere he fostered in which I gained the courage to share my ideas. He has shown unwavering encouragement,” said Schaefer.

On being named Schaefer’s most influential teacher, Ouellette said he was “humbled and very appreciative. This year, in my capacity as college counseling dean, I saw firsthand the extensive application process for the Presidential Scholars. These are students who are vetted thoroughly and who, because they invest so much time and attention to the application, become known well by the committee. Among so many worthy students, then, it is a great honor for Kim that she was chosen.”

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