Steven Johnson, a theatre student at Interlochen Arts Academy, has been named a Presidential Scholar in the Arts. The 18 year-old senior from Rockford Illinois is the 40th Arts Academy student to earn the distinction of being named a Presidential Scholar.
As a Presidential Scholar, Johnson will travel to Washington D.C. to be honored with other scholars from around the country during several days of activities, including a trip to meet President Barack Obama at the White House in late June.
“It is a huge honor for me. I feel very blessed,” said Johnson. “But I know it’s not all about me. I have had so many good teachers and friends who have helped me. This recognition says a lot about them too.”
“He has an impeccable work ethic and an eagerness to learn everything that he can about an art that he loves,” said David Montee, one of Johnson’s theatre instructors and the director of theatre programs at Interlochen. “He has the potential to make a significant contribution to theatre and to the country.”
Upon their selection as Presidential Scholars, recipients of the honor are asked to select their most influential and inspiring teacher. This person is also invited to Washington D.C. to be honored as a “Distinguished Teacher” by the Department of Education. While Johnson struggled to select from among several members of the Interlochen theatre faculty, he decided to invite his mentor David Montee. This is the second time that Montee has earned this distinction.
Johnson started acting when he was eight and performed in a number of professional and community theatre productions around his hometown of Rockford. He enrolled at the Arts Academy in his junior year. He is currently playing the challenging leading role of the Cat in the Hat in the Academy production of "Seussical." Next year Johnson will study theatre at the Guthrie Theater program at the University of Minnesota.
The Presidential Scholars program was created in 1964 to honor academic achievement. It was expanded in 1979 to recognize students who demonstrate exceptional talent in the visual, literary and performing arts. At the request of the White House Commission on Presidential Scholars, the National Foundation for the Advancement of the Arts (NFAA) nominates students for consideration after an extensive talent search program.