The two Alaska students to be named 2024 U.S. Presidential Scholars were a homeschooler from Anchorage and a career and technical graduate from the Mat-Su.

These students, Bentley Altman and Samantha Holler, opted to forego the traditional, neighborhood public school model for a more tailored and personalized educational experience.

Altman attended Family Partnership Charter School in Anchorage, which was founded by parents with the aim of supporting homeschool families in delivering a parent-driven, student-centered education. The school serves as a bridge between homeschool students and formal education by providing a mechanism by which families may work with certified teachers to plan personalized, individualized learning plans for their students. At Family Partnership, parents are given greater freedoms to teach from their educational philosophies and curriculum choices.

Holler graduated from Mat-Su Career and Technical Highschool in Wasilla. According to the school’s website, it engages students in “an enriched learning environment that fuels their ambition through real-world experiences.”

Unlike traditional public schools, Career-Tech employes small learning communities to create more supportive, personalized learning environments as students focus on a career theme. The school also has established partnerships with local employers to provide career awareness and work-based learning opportunities. Additionally, the school offers students a way to start a college major while still in high school by taking courses that can be applied to postsecondary or apprenticeship programs.

Altman and Holler were among just 161 high school seniors from across the nation to receive the Presidential Scholars award, which included two students 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. 

“Being named a 2024 U.S. Presidential Scholar is an incredible honor, and we are immensely proud of Bentley D. Altman and Samantha J. Holler for achieving this prestigious recognition,” said DEED Commissioner Deena Bishop. “Their dedication to academic excellence and outstanding achievements highlight the exceptional talents they possess. We celebrate their success and look forward to their continued contributions to our community and beyond.”

Of the 3.7 million students expected to graduate from high school this year, only 5,700 qualified as potential candidates for the 2024 awards as determined by outstanding performance on the College Board SAT or ACT exams or through nominations made by chief state school officers, other partner recognition organizations and YoungArts, the National Foundation for the Advancement of Artists.

Created in 1964, the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program has honored over 8,200 of the nation’s top-performing students. The Presidential Scholars Class of 2024 will be recognized for their outstanding achievement this summer with an online recognition program.

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Homeschooler and career tech grad are Alaska’s 2024 U.S. Presidential Scholars

Joel Davidson
Joel is Editor-in-Chief of the Alaska Watchman. Joel is an award winning journalist and has been reporting for over 24 years, He is a proud father of 8 children, and lives in Palmer, Alaska.

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