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Q&A: Laura Kaplan and Katie Camille Friedman

Presidential Scholars



Each year, the Presidential Scholars program honors one male and one female high school senior from each state and U.S. territory for academic achievement, along with 15 at-large honorees. In an exception to the rule, this year's three scholars from Tennessee included two students from St. Mary's Episcopal School.

But Katie Camille Friedman and Laura Kaplan are very different. While Friedman -- heading to Princeton this fall -- plays several musical instruments and hopes to be a chemical engineer, the Harvard-bound Kaplan enjoys writing and aspires to address inequality in global health care.

Last week, Friedman and Kaplan flew to Washington, D.C., with teachers Rhendle Millen and Joan Traffas. There, they attended a four-day series of ceremonies, speakers, and tours. The Flyer got the details of their trip. -- By Shea O'Rourke

Flyer: Did you see President Bush?

Kaplan: We got to go to the White House, and he came to speak with us for a few minutes. We were late because of flooding, so there wasn't a lot of time. He didn't seem to want to shake any of our hands.

Friedman: He shook a couple of people's hands, and everybody started to swarm around him, and he was like, "I gotta go, I gotta go."

What did he talk about?

Kaplan: He said he supported all religions, immigration. (Turning to Friedman) Did he have any point, really?

Friedman: It was pretty generic.

Kaplan: But it was exciting. It was a big deal to get to go to the White House with the cool, special entrance.

Friedman: Especially since tours are really difficult to get now.

What were the other Presidential Scholars like?

Friedman: The people we met were very outgoing and a lot of fun to be around. They just happened to be really intelligent people who are going to go off and do exciting things.

Kaplan: A lot of them were people that we will be going to college with, so it'll be nice to have a few familiar faces.

How did you choose whom to bring as your most inspiring mentors?

Kaplan: That was easy! Ms. Traffas is a phenomenal educator. She forces her students to become critical thinkers, to evaluate their positions, to expand the way they look at the world.

Friedman: It was really easy for me too. I've had Doc [Millen] for music classes, humanities, music theory, and band outside of school. He's the one who supported my music activities the most.

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