Quakertown’s Presidential Scholar!

Raymond Slifer, a senior at Quakertown Community High School and Upper Bucks County Technical School, has been named a 2021 U.S. Presidential Scholar, one of the high­est awards the nation can bestow upon a grad­u­at­ing senior.

“This is insane,” said Raymond, who found out Thursday when he checked his email dur­ing a break from run­ning his milling machine at Bracalente Manufacturing Group. He read the let­ter from the U.S. Department of Education and “I had a big, old smile on my face.”

He imme­di­ate­ly con­tact­ed his par­ents on a group chat and they expressed how proud they were. “They were very, very excit­ed,” he said. “I had to con­trol my excite­ment and go back to run­ning my machine. It’s a real­ly fun time.”

Raymond is one of 161 seniors cho­sen for the pres­ti­gious hon­or. Only 20 have demon­strat­ed abil­i­ty and accom­plish­ment in the fields of career and tech­ni­cal edu­ca­tion. Raymond is one of those 20. The chal­lenge to attain these heights is sig­nif­i­cant. Consider, there are 3.6 mil­lion stu­dents expect­ed to grad­u­ate from high school this year. Just over 6,000 of them qual­i­fied for the 2021 awards deter­mined by out­stand­ing per­for­mance on the College Board SAT or ACT exams.

“This is an extra­or­di­nary achieve­ment and Raymond is an extra­or­di­nary stu­dent and leader,” QCHS Principal Mattias van’t Hoenderdaal said. “Raymond has earned this accom­plish­ment through hard work and ded­i­ca­tion, and is cer­tain­ly wor­thy of this recog­ni­tion. I couldn’t be more proud of him. He is a fine exam­ple for our stu­dents to fol­low and he is cer­tain to have won­der­ful oppor­tu­ni­ties in the future.”

Jeff Sweda, Executive Director at UBCTS, said “I am so proud of Raymond and the entire staff. This is just anoth­er tes­ta­ment of the work that is put in will always shine. Congratulations to every­one.”

Scholars are select­ed annu­al­ly based on their aca­d­e­m­ic suc­cess, artis­tic and tech­ni­cal excel­lence, essays, school eval­u­a­tions and tran­scripts, as well as evi­dence of com­mu­ni­ty ser­vice, lead­er­ship and demon­strat­ed com­mit­ment to high ideals. They are com­prised of one young man and one young woman from each state, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, and U.S. fam­i­lies liv­ing abroad, as well as 15 cho­sen at-large, 20 Scholars in the arts and 20 Scholars in career and tech­ni­cal edu­ca­tion.

The Scholars Program was estab­lished in 1964 to rec­og­nize and hon­or some of our nation’s most dis­tin­guished grad­u­at­ing high school seniors. 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. That’s where Raymond excels.

A Machining Technologies stu­dent, Raymond is a Cooperative Education stu­dent trainee employed by Bracalente in Trumbauersville. He is a tool room tech­ni­cian and has received all excel­lent eval­u­a­tions from his employ­er He has also excelled in the Machining Technologies Program, earn­ing the OSHA 10 Safety Certification and sev­er­al National Institute of Metal Working Skills Certifications. He was named a mem­ber of the National Technical Honor Society and has com­pet­ed and placed at SkillsUSA machin­ing com­pe­ti­tions at the dis­trict and state lev­els.

Raymond, an Eagle Scout, is a junior fire­fight­er with the Richlandtown Fire Co. He is enrolled in the UBCTS/Bucks County Community College Technical Entrepreneurship Program and will seek his associate’s degree upon grad­u­a­tion. He will then trans­fer to Pennsylvania College of Technology and major in Manufacturing Engineering.

Raymond said he looked back today at how he con­tin­ued to advance through the rounds of the Scholars pro­gram. “When I think about it, it’s like, ‘Wow, a lot of peo­ple start­ed in this and they’re just as smart as me but I got select­ed to win the award, which is insane to me.’ I want to thank the peo­ple around me because I couldn’t have got­ten where I am with­out them.”