|Remarks by Secretary Paige's Remarks at the 2004 Presidential Scholars Medallion Ceremony
Thank you, Linda (Graves, former First Lady of Kansas), for that kind introduction. Thank you for accepting leadership of this program. You and your husband served the people of Kansas well. I know you will bring the same dedication and commitment to all you do in your new home in the nation's capital. You're not in Kansas anymore! But, we can all be glad you're in Washington.
Programs such as this are able to continue with the support of generous sponsors. In particular, I would like to take this opportunity to thank James Farmer. Mr. Farmer is a vice president with the General Motors Acceptance Corporation, and a sponsor for nearly twenty years. Your support has helped sustain this important program and I thank you.
Thank you all for coming and welcome to our nation's capital. Some of you had a long journey and had to take flights across the country. Others drove in from just across town. You are a diverse gathering. You are from Birmingham and Bangor ... Wichita and Washington.
Your interests and gifts are equally wide-ranging. You are musicians, mathematicians, writers, artists, and scientists.
However diverse, you will now have one common bond throughout your lives - you are now Presidential Scholars. On behalf of President and Mrs. Bush, congratulations.
You join the ranks of a select group of outstanding individuals. Few can say the same.
This year, we celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Presidential Scholars program. Begun by President Johnson in 1964, this program has continued to highlight all the things that are right about our country. You are inventive, competitive, creative and motivated.
Every year, the scholars impress us with their talents and achievements. This year is no different.
Among you is a young man who spent much of his time as a member of his school's Fed Challenge Team, simulating Alan Greenspan and the Federal Open Market Committee. If you understand them well enough to imitate them, you have a leg up on the rest of us!
Another young woman excelled in her Latin studies, learning such timeless phrases as "Quid rides, vervex?" or "What are you laughing at, sheep's head?"
One of you wrote of studying bacterial transformation while performing experiments in which you made E.Coli resistant to ampicillin. Piece of cake.
You are our nation's best and brightest, and I know we can expect much from you.
On the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the scholars program, President Reagan addressed the scholars on the South Lawn of the White House. He said, "Education at its core is more than just teaching our young the skills that are needed for a job, however important that is. It's also about passing on to each new generation the values that serve as the foundation and cornerstone of our free democratic society."
One of the most important of these values is the generosity of spirit that has characterized our nation. This spirit has driven Americans to serve and volunteer to strengthen our nation and give to those who need help.
I call on each of you today to follow that tradition. Many of you already have. Give of your time and your talents. Help those who follow in your footsteps. Become a mentor. Read to a child.
As a lifelong educator, I cannot let the opportunity pass to invite you to consider becoming a teacher. You will find no more fulfilling investment than to help a child along the path of learning and knowledge. And you will provide a great service to our nation by sharing your talents with future generations.
Just ask your teachers. They helped you become the shining stars of academia that you are today. As one of the students here from Little Rock wrote to his teacher, "Thank you for everything you have done for me." On behalf of a grateful nation, I thank you as well.
Teaching is an act of giving, an extension of yourself. We need more teachers like you. You challenge and entice these students... push and prod and help them to soar to new academic heights. You succeeded. And they brought you here to show their thanks.
So to all of you, congratulations on your accomplishment. I wish you all the very best. I know great things are in store for the Presidential Scholars of 2004.