Getting involved and making an effort led two Mitchell High School seniors to new opportunities.

Jamison Gross and Sam Jones have been selected for the 2019 U.S. Presidential Scholars Program, which recognizes students nationally for their leadership, scholarship, and contributions to the community.

The program reflects on students who demonstrate ability and accomplishments in their studies, career, and exceptional talent in the creative arts. These students are approximately two of about 4,000 students selected nationally as candidates.

For the arts component of the program, students are initially selected based on their artistic ability. Students must participate in YoungArts, a national program identifying and recognizing young people demonstrating excellence in the arts. To confirm their interest, academic and arts candidates complete and submit candidacy materials, including essays, self-assessments, secondary school reports and transcripts for review.

Gross is a student with strong involvement in the performing and fine arts of MHS. Participating in show choir, theater, band, and South Dakota's all-state choir throughout high school, he has kept himself busy with entertaining audiences and guiding others.

"I've also been a vocal captain and dance captain for Friend de Coup, which is what I spend a lot of my time doing," Gross said. "I honestly didn't know I was nominated for the award until I got a letter in the mail telling me I was chosen, so it was definitely a surprise."

Gross plans to attend the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and major in musical composition and minor in Spanish.

"It really is an honor, though, to know that I was recommended and selected out of such a large number of individuals," Gross told The Daily Republic via email.

Jones leads most of his school involvement in academics and track and field. He does not plan to attend college, but he will join the military.

"Kathy Mills, (an MHS school counselor), had told me about the scholars achievement," said Jones. "I thought it was neat, and I guess I was pretty excited."

Students have the opportunity to become presidential scholars based on three paths of accomplishments. The majority of scholars are selected based on their academic achievement. Additional students are selected for their academic and artistic scholarship in visual arts, the performing arts, or creative writing. Another group of students are selected on the basis of outstanding scholarship and accomplishment in career and technical education fields.

The selection of approximately 4,000 original program candidates generally is made based on SAT and ACT scores. The total SAT score is compared to the ACT Sum of Scores. Approximately 20 female and 20 males students are selected as candidates from each state.

In April, the Commission on Presidential Scholars reviews the applications of all semifinalists. The Commission selects up to 161 U.S. Presidential Scholars each year, one of the nation's highest honors for high school students. All scholars are honored for their accomplishments during the National Recognition Program, held in June in Washington, D.C.

The most recent previous Mitchell student selected as one of the final presidential scholars was Shelby Riggs in 2016.

Scholars are guests of the Commission during the National Recognition Program and receive an all-expenses paid trip to Washington D.C., to meet with government officials, educators, and other dignitaries. To commemorate their achievement, the scholars are awarded the U.S. Presidential Scholars medallion at a ceremony at the White House.

The semifinalists will be named in mid-April, while the names of the 2019 U.S. Presidential Scholars will be posted in early May.