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 WHS senior a candidate for U.S. Presidential Scholars Program  

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Patrick Ethier is among 25 high school seniors in New York nominated for the prestigious U.S. Presidential Scholars program.

Patrick Ethier among New York nominees for prestigious program that recognizes graduating seniors across the country for academic performance, leadership and community service


When Patrick Ethier first learned of his recent nomination to the 2018 U.S. Presidential Scholars program, it came as a complete surprise.

“I was at the firehouse where I volunteer, actually waiting on stand-by for the big Cohoes fire last week, when my parents stopped by and my mom showed me a Tweet about my nomination,” he said.

A sign of the times, news of Patrick’s nomination was shared quickly through the school district’s Twitter account after Superintendent Dr. Lori Caplan received word from New York State Assemblyman John McDonald.

“I can’t think of a student more deserving of this honor than Patrick,” said Dr. Caplan. “He has always demonstrated leadership through his participation in student government and other extracurricular opportunities. He is currently our student rep to the Board of Education. In addition, he has shown his dedication to the Watervliet community as a whole through countless hours of volunteer service.”

Patrick’s humility was evident in his reaction to the announcement. “I was surprised. I didn’t know anything about it,” he said. “I am grateful to Mr. O [guidance counselor David Olszewski] for nominating me, and to Assemblyman McDonald for supporting my nomination to the State Education Department. This is a real honor.”

To those who know Patrick, however, his nomination is not surprising.

“Patrick is dedicated. A Watervliet Cannoneer through and through. His academics are important, of course, but he values character and ‘doing the right thing’ above everything else,” said school counselor David Olszewski. “Patrick is an energetic, determined young man who is a very hard worker. He lives to help others and is a great role model for his peers as well as younger students. What sets Patrick apart is his sincerity, his integrity, and his commitment to his community in all aspects of the word.”

Despite an internship with a local fire department and an extensive list of extracurricular involvement, Patrick is taking a full course load his senior year to prepare for the challenges ahead.

The Watervliet High School senior currently ranks fourth in a class of 80 peers with a 95 average. He has consistently earned high honor roll status throughout his junior-senior high school years, and has excelled in the many college level and honors courses he has taken. Patrick was inducted into The Ellen Bevins Chapter of The National Honor Society in 2016.

A student musician, he plays saxophone in band and sings with school’s premier à capella group Delta Force. Since entering junior high, he has been active in the school’s Character Education program – participating in 2014 in the Anti-Defamation League’s A World Difference Institute Peer Training Program, which prepares young people to use the positive power of peer influence to promote respect and civility in their schools and beyond. He is co-president of Student Council, where he has served since 2014; is a Class of 2018 officer and serves as chief editor of the Yearbook Committee. Patrick is the current Board of Education Student Representative and volunteers as a student member of the Technology Committee. He previously was a member of local cable channel WVLT’s Video Club.

During his years in high school, he has been involved in athletics primarily from the administrative side, having served as the student assistant to the Director of Athletics. He has been responsible for the setup and breakdown of the athletic facilities for sporting events, referee liaison, scoreboard operator and shot clock operator.

“Patrick’s assistance has been invaluable to the Watervliet athletic program,” said Athletic Director Michael Foust. “He is one of the most responsible students I have ever known, and I couldn’t be more proud of him and the recognition he is receiving.”

Now as he prepares to graduate this year, Patrick is preparing to pass the torch on to the next in line.

“I have been teaching other students how to operate the scoreboard for basketball, volleyball and other games,” he said.

Patrick often can be found at the Shaker Road Loudonville Fire Department, where he serves as a volunteer firefighter after successfully completed the department’s Explorer program where he climbed the ladder (pun intended) from lieutenant to captain to Assistant Chief to Chief between March 2015 and November 2017. He was named Shaker Road Loudonville Explorer Post 475 Explorer of the Year in 2016.

His other community service includes: Watervliet Housing Santa Visits, Watervliet Little League, and the City of Watervliet Tree Lighting.

Future plans

Patrick is applying to the University of Maryland and the University of New Haven where he plans to study Fire Protection Engineering. In fact, over the summer, Patrick completed a three-week, credit-bearing program in Fire Protection Engineering at the University of Maryland where he learned a variety of skills including fire suppression systems and using Arduino coding. Not completely decided on his post-secondary plans, Patrick has also applied to Siena College and St. John’s University to pursue business.

The son of Judy and Andy Ethier and older brother of Aaron, a ninth-grader at Watervliet High School, Patrick has attended Watervliet schools since kindergarten.

He offered the following advice for students entering the junior-senior high school.

“Make sure school work comes first, but then also make time to be involved in whatever it is that interests you – sports, masterminds, chess club – whatever it is,” he said. “The more involved you are, the more people you’ll meet and friends you’ll make.”

More about New York's Presidential Scholars nomination

In a statement, Assemblymember John McDonald said this about Patrick's nomination: “I sincerely appreciate the nomination of Patrick Ethier that was put forth by Commissioner Elia as part of an elite group of women and men for the Presidential Scholars program. This prestigious program recognizes the talent and commitment of these future leaders and I am pleased that Patrick’s name has been placed in nomination. Patrick is an all around, well-rounded student who stands head and shoulders amongst his peers. His approach to his education and life is respected, and this honor is in my opinion one of many to follow. Thank you to Commissioner Elia and the Regents for their continued efforts to shine a light on these bright stars throughout New York State.”

In a State Education Department press release, Commissioner Elia recognized the 25 students who have been nominated for the program:

“The distinguished nominees are representative of the many talented high school students across our state. Their commitment to academic excellence sets a strong example for their peers, and I am pleased to recognize their accomplishments. I wish them continued success as nominees for this prestigious award.” Read press release

History of Presidential Scholars Program

Established in 1964, the program recognizes the nation’s most distinguished graduating seniors for their accomplishments in many areas: academic success, leadership, and service to school and community. Only 4,000 of approximately 3 million high school seniors in the U.S. are invited to apply. Of those, up to 161 will be selected as finalists and will travel to the White House in June to receive a U.S. Presidential Scholars medallion. Semi-finalists will be selected in mid-April, and the names of 2018 U.S. Presidential Scholars will be announced in May.

For more information about the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program, parents and students can call the U.S. Presidential Scholars Office at 319.688.4345 or send an email to PSP@act.org.