Mapping Your Future logo

South Dakota students named presidential scholars; teachers honored

A graduate in cap and gown hugging his father.

July 7, 2021

Despite dealing with educational challenges brought on by the pandemic, high school seniors from across the country, including three South Dakota students, accomplished enough to be named U.S. Presidential Scholars.

Among the 161 students nationally recognized as Presidential Scholars were the following South Dakota students:

  • Riley James Nold, Sioux Falls - Washington High School
  • Brooklyn Kate Pater, Sioux Falls - Sioux Falls Christian High School
  • Samantha Timanus, Gregory - Gregory High School

In a U.S. Department of Education press release, Secretary Dr. Miguel Cardona said the 2021 Presidential Scholars represent “extraordinary achievements for our extraordinary times.”

The White House Commission on Presidential Scholars selects scholars annually. According to the announcement, the students are selected 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.

In addition to the students being recognized, three South Dakota educators were recognized as Distinguished Teachers:

  • Mr. Jared Opp, Gregory High School
  • Mr. Cameron Brooks, Sioux Falls Christian School
  • Adam Smith, Washington High School

Created in 1964, the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program has honored over 7,600 of the nation's top-performing students. The program was expanded in 1979 to recognize students who demonstrate exceptional talent in the visual, literary and performing arts. In 2015, the program was again extended to recognize students who demonstrate ability and accomplishment in career and technical education fields.

The Presidential Scholars Class of 2021 will be recognized for their outstanding achievement this summer. A complete list of 2021 U.S. Presidential Scholars follows and is also available at