Altavilla, a resident of Mendon, is one of only 689 semifinalists selected from nearly 4,700 candidates nationwide. According to an announcement from the U.S. Department of Education, inclusion in the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program is one of the highest honors bestowed upon graduating high school seniors. Scholars are selected on the basis of superior academic and artistic achievements, leadership qualities, strong character, and involvement in community and school activities.
Altavilla was nominated for the Scholars Program by Blackstone Valley Tech, the Massachusetts Association of Vocational Administrators, and the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. The nomination highlighted Altavilla’s ability to perform at the top of his class while earning numerous technical certifications, participating in extracurricular activities and athletics, and working for a global information technology leader.
In his application essay, Altavilla described his experience as an employee of EMC Corporation, where he holds the distinction of being the first high school student ever hired by an EMC design group for an Engineering cooperative education position. At EMC, Altavilla has displayed true preparedness for the modern workforce and was even placed in a leadership role developing a wireless debugging board that will eventually be shipped around the world.
According to Altavilla, he is honored to be chosen as a national semifinalist and grateful to his soon-to-be alma mater for its training and support.
“The fact that I have been able to progress through the consideration process to the semifinalist level reflects BVT’s success in developing well-prepared career technical students,” Altavilla commented. “I look forward to hearing from the US Department of Education whether I will be fortunate enough to be part of such a prestigious group of America’s best academic, vocational, and arts focused students.”
In May, the U.S. Department of Education will announce 161 finalists chosen by the Commission on Presidential Scholars, a group of 32 eminent citizens appointed by the President. If selected, Altavilla and other Scholars will be invited to Washington, DC, for several days in June to attend a series of recognition events, including a Presidential Scholars Medallion presentation during a White House-sponsored ceremony.
“I think that if I am selected as a finalist, the Scholars Program would be a great opportunity to represent BVT’s comprehensive academic and vocational program at the nation’s capital, as well as network with other accomplished students,” Altavilla said.
Regardless of whether or not he is named a finalist, Altavilla has already distinguished himself as a stellar representative of Valley Tech and career technical education at large, according to Superintendent-Director Dr. Michael Fitzpatrick.
“Valley Tech is fortunate and proud to have a student of Michael’s caliber earn semifinalist status in a program as competitive and prestigious as the Presidential Scholars Program,” Fitzpatrick commented. “This unprecedented accomplishment speaks volumes of Michael’s academic abilities, technical aptitude, and quality of character.”
At Valley Tech’s May graduation, Altavilla will deliver the Salutatorian’s address before crossing the stage to receive his high school diploma and vocational certificate. This fall, Altavilla will enroll in Worcester Polytechnic Institute as a member of the Class of 2020.