State officials recognize Quakertown Presidential Scholar

Pennsylvania Department of Education Acting Secretary Noe Ortega vis­it­ed the Upper Bucks County Technical School June 2nd to rec­og­nize the “high accom­plish­ments” of Presidential Scholar Raymond Slifer and tout the impor­tance of career and tech­ni­cal education.

Raymond, a stu­dent at Quakertown Community High School and the UBCTS, is Pennsylvania’s first career and tech­ni­cal edu­ca­tion Presidential Scholar since the pro­gram began rec­og­niz­ing stu­dents with those abil­i­ties and accom­plish­ments in 2015. Raymond is one of 161 seniors nation­wide cho­sen to receive one of the high­est aca­d­e­m­ic awards bestowed upon a grad­u­at­ing high school senior. Only 20 have demon­strat­ed abil­i­ty and accom­plish­ment in the fields of career and tech­ni­cal education.

Raymond has paved a path that reflects hard work, lead­er­ship, and com­mu­ni­ty ser­vice,” Secretary Ortega said. “It’s a priv­i­lege to be able to cel­e­brate these acco­lades and achieve­ments with him. It’s nice to see that when some­one works hard, real­ly grinds, and they make it in the end.”

Dr. Lee Burket, PDE’s Director of the Bureau of Career and Technical Education, said when the bureau learned of Raymond’s accom­plish­ment “We were doing the hap­py dance virtually.”

State law­mak­ers were also part of the cer­e­mo­ny and vis­it, which includ­ed a tour of the school. State Rep. Craig Staats and Sen. Bob Mensch pre­sent­ed Raymond with a Proclamation from the General Assembly.

Rep. Staats said he’s known the fam­i­ly, Raymond’s par­ents Ronald and Rachel, for some time. “I’m proud of Raymond, but we’re not sur­prised,” Rep. Staats said. “He’s a fine young man.”

Sen. Mensch said the com­mon theme through­out the acco­lades was Raymond’s work eth­ic. “None of this hap­pened on its own,” he said. “You have a mom and dad who taught you the right way. And you’ve accom­plished a great deal. I’ll vote for you when you get to the White House.”

For his part, Raymond appeared nat­u­ral­ly over­whelmed by the atten­tion. Prodded by UBCTS Executive Director Jeff Sweda to say a few words, Raymond said “It real­ly does mean a lot. I nev­er thought I could get this far. I grew up on a farm and worked hard, tried to stay humble.”

Asked for her reac­tion to the sup­port for her son, Mrs. Slifer became emo­tion­al. “I don’t real­ly have words for it,” she said. “Excitement. It opens doors. But it’s hum­bling. He’s worked so hard.

You pray and hope and teach them to do the right thing. And when they become a good per­son you take pride.”

Presidential 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 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. 

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 also 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, using over a dozen duel cred­its earned while attend­ing UBCTS. He will then trans­fer to Pennsylvania College of Technology and major in Manufacturing Engineering.

What Raymond has accom­plished is extra­or­di­nary,” QCHD Superintendent Dr. Bill Harner said. “Raymond has earned this accom­plish­ment through per­se­ver­ance, hard work and ded­i­ca­tion. He has shown out­stand­ing lead­er­ship and is a fine exam­ple for our stu­dents to follow.”