OV senior named as Presidential Scholar
BRANDON — Otter Valley Union High School senior Emma Cijka has been named one of 24 Vermont U.S. Presidential Scholars. She is the only high school student from the Addison County and Brandon area to win this distinction.
Cijka, the daughter of Wendy and Stephen Cijka of Brandon, and her fellow Vermont nominees were honored last Thursday at a ceremony in the Cedar Creek Room at the Vermont Statehouse in Montpelier.
OV Guidance Counselor Meredith McCartney wrote Cijka’s recommendation letter and said the modest and hardworking senior deserves the honor.
“They asked for our best and our brightest and we submitted her,” McCartney said. “Emma is incredibly hard working. She’s always polite, never complains and is super consistent.”
The Cijka family runs a goat cheese making business at their High Pond Goat Farm in Brandon, and Emma works on the farm in addition to taking a heavy load of Advanced Placement courses at OV. She currently has a 101.90 academic average. McCartney said by the time she graduates in June, Cijka will have taken all of OV’s AP courses, and earned 10 college science credits.
Cijka is also an accomplished musician, playing flute and piano. She plays in the Otter Valley school band, pit band and jazz band, as well as the Lakes Region Youth Orchestra. As a junior, Cijka was named principal flutist in the Vermont All-State Music Festival.
She is also a talented distance runner and has been a member of the OV cross-country team since middle school. She’s on the Nordic skiing team this winter.
McCartney said Cijka is planning to study veterinary medicine and specialize in large animal veterinary care. She also intends to continue her family’s farming tradition.
“Let’s celebrate a highly intelligent Vermont farm girl who wants to stick to those roots,” McCarthy said.
The U.S. Presidential Scholars Program was established in 1964 by executive order of President Lyndon Johnson to recognize and honor some of the most distinguished graduating high school seniors in the United States. 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.
Vermont nominees will be eligible to apply for the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program. Each year, up to 161 students across the U.S. are named as Presidential Scholars, one of the nation’s highest honors for high school students, and the students are recognized at a ceremony in Washington, D.C.
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