DOYLESTOWN >> Most counties would be honored to count one of the nation’s 161 U.S Presidential Scholars among their residents. This year, Bucks County has two – including the first technical school student in Pennsylvania to receive the distinction.
The Bucks County Commissioners at its meeting on Wednesday, July 21 recognized Richard Fang of Newtown and Raymond Slifer of Richlandtown as 2021 U.S. Presidential Scholars.
“It’s incredibly difficult to become a presidential scholar,” said County Commissioner Bob Harvie. “To have two here in Bucks County is really fantastic, and we want to make sure we honor them.”
Each year, the Commission on Presidential Scholars picks just 161 students from across the country based on high school seniors’ academic success and community involvement. Fang and Slifer each proved themselves deserving of the awards.
As vice president of his Council Rock High School North class, Fang formed a coalition to get hand sanitizing stations in the cafeteria for the betterment of the entire student body – which ultimately helped during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Fang was also team captain of the debate and tennis teams, as well as first chair and section lead for the band’s saxophone players. He regularly volunteers, and when school was out for the summer, Fang participated in programs including the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth and a root-seeking camp in Beijing, China.
The U.S. Presidential Scholars program began in 1964 by executive order of the president to recognize the nation’s most distinguished graduating high school seniors. In 1979, the program extended to include students in the visual, creative and performing arts. Then in 2015, it again extended to recognize students in the career and technical fields, where Slifer shines.
Slifer, a graduate of Upper Bucks County Technical School, became the first student in Pennsylvania to reach the U.S. Presidential Scholar status for his distinguished technical abilities.
“Certainly, as someone who taught at a technical high school for almost 20 years, I understand the value of that kind of education,” said Commissioner Harvie. “It’s really a great honor to see it recognized because too often it’s not recognized, even in our community.”
Aside from academics, Slifer is a junior firefighter serving his community at the Richlandtown Fire Company. Slifer, also an Eagle Scout, combined his passion for the firehouse and design skills to build 36 new gear lockers for the men and women of the fire company, as his Eagle Project.
Both Bucks presidential scholars have goals of continuing their education for fruitful future careers.
Fang will be attending the University of Pittsburgh this fall with aspirations of going to medical school. Slifer plans to transfer to the Pennsylvania College of Technology to major in manufacturing engineering after Bucks County Community College’s Technical Entrepreneurship Program.
All of the commissioners wished the scholars well and presented them with letters of commendation on Wednesday.