The National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) in the fall announced the names of approximately 16,000 Semifinalists in the 62nd annual National Merit Scholarship Program. These academically talented high school seniors have an opportunity to continue in the competition for some 7,500 National Merit Scholarships worth about $33 million that will be offered in the spring.
To be considered for a Merit Scholarship® award, Semifinalists must fulfill several requirements to advance to the Finalist level of the competition. About 90 percent of the Semifinalists are expected to attain Finalist standing, and about half of the Finalists will win a National Merit Scholarship, earning the Merit Scholar® title.
About 1.6 million juniors in more than 22,000 high schools entered the 2017 National Merit Scholarship Program by taking the 2015 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT®) in October 2015, which served as an initial screen of program entrants. The nationwide pool of Semifinalists, representing less than 1 percent of U.S. high school seniors, includes the highest- scoring entrants in each state.
In Arizona, 282 high school students were named Merit Semifinalists; of those, 25 attend North Central area schools.
To become a Finalist, the Semifinalist and his or her high school must submit a detailed scholarship application, in which they provide information about the Semifinalist’s academic record, participation in school and community activities, demonstrated leadership abilities, employment, and honors and awards received. A Semifinalist must have an outstanding academic record throughout high school, be endorsed and recommended by a high school official, write an essay, and earn SAT® scores that confirm the student’s earlier performance on the qualifying test.
From the approximately 16,000 Semifinalists, about 15,000 are expected to advance to the Finalist level, and in February they will be notified of this designation. All National Merit Scholarship winners will be selected from this group of Finalists. Merit Scholar designees are selected on the basis of their skills, accomplishments, and potential for success in rigorous college studies, without regard to gender, race, ethnic origin, or religious preference.
National Merit Scholarship winners of 2017 will be announced in four nationwide news releases beginning in April and concluding in July. These scholarship recipients will join more than 323,000 other distinguished young people who have earned the Merit Scholar title.
Semifinalists from North Central area schools included:
Arizona School for the Arts
The following ASA students have been recognized as National Merit Semifinalists: Lauren Auchterlonie and Sungho Kim. Arizona School for the Arts is located at 1410 N. 3rd St.
Brophy College Preparatory
Thirteen Brophy seniors have been named 2017 National Merit Semifinalists. Brophy’s semifinalists are Will Alpert, Anthony Cardellini, Carter Clelland, Zephan Enciso, Ian Gray, Brandon Hulston, Luke Miller, Brendan Morey, Luke Stegmayer, Ryan Teetsel, Brandon Theodorou, Michael Travis, and Jack Venberg.
Brophy College Prep, 4701 N. Central Ave., is a Jesuit, Catholic high school established in 1928 that seeks to instill competence, conscience, and compassion and to educate men for others. Historically, 99 percent of Brophy students attend college, with 98 percent going on to four-year colleges and universities.
Glendale Union High School District:
Sunnyslope juniors Makenna Lockwood and Jake Dean, along with Thunderbird junior Steven Graham were named semifinalists this year. They were each presented with a certificate of recognition by the GUHSD Governing Board during its Sept. 21 meeting.
Phoenix Country Day School:
Three of the 66 members of the PCDS Class of 2017 have been named Semifinalists in the National Merit Scholarship competition. The three Phoenix Country Day School Semifinalists are Annalise Bracher, Simon Olschansky, and Aaron Ossias.
Since its founding in 1961, Phoenix Country Day School, located at 3901 E. Stanford Drive, has been recognized by colleges and universities throughout the country for producing high-academic, well-rounded, and especially prepared graduates. In a given year, 100 percent of PCDS graduates are accepted to a four-year college or university, with approximately 75 percent of those graduates matriculating out-of-state.
Over the past four years, PCDS has graduated 24 total National Merit Semifinalists, representing 10 percent of its graduates during that span.
Phoenix Union High School District:
North High School’s Jackson Carpenter and Hugo Crick Furman were named National Merit Scholarship Semifinalists in the 2016 National Merit Scholarship Program, and Cordell Michaud was a National Merit Scholarship Commended student.
Carpenter helped his chances as a National Merit semifinalist by scoring a perfect 800 on the PSAT math exam last fall. His favorite subjects are math, “a language consistent across the globe,” and physics, because it connects with his love of math. He also enjoys playing clarinet in the North Marching Band and Symphonic Band, and has been a member of the District and Regional Honor Band the last two years. He is a member of the North Film Society, National Honors Society and competes in math competitions. Carpenter volunteers at Longview Neighborhood Recreation Center in the summers. He has six colleges he is considering, with ASU, MIT and Princeton among his top picks. He wants to major in math, and become a mathematician, a math teacher, or have a career focusing on physics and engineering. His father, Jack Carpenter, is a World History teacher at North High.
Furman is one of just three seniors in International Baccalaureate High Level Math at North, but his interests are wide and varied. He has performed in 13 plays for North Drama, and Valley Youth Theatre. He is an expert in origami, a juggler, throws playing cards and owns 1,373 yo-yos. His mother is British, and he lived in England for eight years before coming to Phoenix, where he attended Loma Linda School in the Creighton District. He wants to major in theater, and minor in linguistics, and either attend a theater school in London or New York. A French student for four years, he can also speak Welsh and is learning Polish.
Michaud is ranked No. 2 in the senior class. He has been the president of the North Cyborgs Robotics club for two years and was the lead programmer as a sophomore. His favorite class was a robotics seminar, where he learned the fundamentals of robotics, such as design, mechanical and electrical skills, and has taught his classmates and other teenagers programming on Saturdays. He created and led a summer program teaching robotics fundamentals at Burton Barr Library. Robotics will remain his field of study and career. Michaud wants to play a developmental role in artificial intelligence and machine learning. His career interests also include software development, data scientist and analyst, and machine learning engineer. He is considering Stanford, Cal-Berkeley, Harvey Mudd, Caltech, Washington and Carnegie Mellon and will be the first in his family to attend college, along with his twin brother, an IB student who wants to go to Emery Riddle.
Xavier College Preparatory
Xavier College Preparatory, 4710 N. 5th St., announced that three seniors—Maeneka Grewal, Taylor Lawritson and Maeve McIntyre—have been named Semifinalists in the 2017 National Merit Scholarship Competition.
Thirteen Xavier students also were named Commended Students in recognition of their outstanding academic promise. They are: Nsomma Alilonu, Erin An, Caroline Anton, Sarah Carter, Kiley Galvin, Abigail Johnson, Katherine Kleeman, Kathleen Moore, Alex Murray, Jamie Shores, Erin Sweeney, Madison Walker, and Emily Woodrow.
Veritas Preparatory Academy
Great Hearts Academies has nine students who were recognized as National Merit Semifinalists, and 31 students who achieved Commended status. Among them were Veritas Preparatory Academy students Samuel Gerkin and John Church. Commended students were Bailey Cooper and Thomas Abel.
“We are delighted to see so many Great Hearts students honored as National Merit Semifinalists and Commended Students this year,” shared Dr. Robert Jackson, chief academic officer for Great Hearts. “This recognition provides a notable benchmark from a uniform comparison across all high schools nationwide. We give tremendous credit to the dedication of our students in their pursuit of intellectual and moral excellence. These accolades for our students provide additional evidence for the strength of the Great Hearts model of classical education.”
Great Hearts is a nonprofit network of public charter schools dedicated to improving education nationwide through classical preparatory K-12 academies. Veritas Prep, which educates more than 700 students in grades 6-12, is located at 3102 N. 56th St., Ste. 200.
National Hispanic Recognition Program Scholars are among the top 5,000 scorers among the 250,000 Hispanic/Latino juniors who take the test. The NHRP program is an academic honor that can be included on college applications. It’s not a scholarship, but colleges do use this program to identify academically exceptional Hispanic/Latino students.
North Central area students who received this recognition included:
Arizona School for the Arts
Shilo Rodriguez, Alex Tuchi, and Alec Videla of ASA were named College Board National Hispanic Recognition Scholars.
Arizona School for the Arts (ASA) has established itself as one of the most distinctive and high achieving schools in the state of Arizona. By engaging in study and discourse of the past while embracing current research and future trends, students acquire the skills and attitudes needed to succeed in a rapidly changing world.
Phoenix Union High School District
Magda Rodriguez and Eli Carreon of North High School were named College Board National Hispanic Recognition Scholars. These academic awards were based on results from the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT). All are seniors in the International Baccalaureate program at North.
Rodriguez loves the arts and theater, not only to express herself, but as a de-stressor. She has been an actress and a crew member for several school plays. She has also helped girls in her community stay out of trouble by helping with an afterschool theatre program. The four-year French student who medaled in the National French Exam, is also the French Club president. She is the Spanish Club vice president, Drama Club treasurer and a member of the International Thespian Society. She says she wants to work in the fast-paced corporate world, and is interested in international business, or law. A first generation college-goer who began learning English at 5 years old, Rodriguez is considering Yale, Columbia, Wellesley, New York Univ., Barnard, Tulane, ASU and Arizona.
Carreon learned as a wrestler to cope with failure and that there is always someone better than you at something. He is quite good at a lot of things. His favorite course is pre-calculus, and then physics. He is also taking High Level IB math. He is involved in North Robotics and drama, and he wants to become an engineer or physicist, “something heavy in science and math.” Carreon volunteers at Longview Recreation Center during the summer, working with kids, 6-12 years old. He says he wants to continue his mother’s legacy of going to college, and do important humanitarian deeds when he gets older. Carreon wants to study aerospace or mechanical engineering in college, which could be Caltech, MIT, Stanford, Cal-Berkeley, Georgia Tech, Emory Riddle or ASU.
Xavier College Prep
Four Xavier students—Victoria Amaro, Samantha Marx, Emma Strouse, and Elena Zurek—were recognized as National Hispanic Recognition Program (NHRP) Scholars for their excellence in academic achievement.