Five Seniors Among Top in Nation Academically

Clare Ravizza , Staff Writer, Advanced Journalism

Seniors Matthew Budde, Cole Chronowski and Christian Zimonick have recently been named National Merit Scholarship Semifinalists. Liam Edgar and Elise Witmer have also been named National Merit Commended students.

According to the National Merit Scholarship Corporation Mission Statement, the program aims to “recognize and honor the academically talented students of the United States.”

To be Commended or a Semifinalist, students must score within the top 50,000 of the 1.5 million students who are citizens of the United States and took the PSAT.

From there, two thirds of the students are Commended. The other one third are notified as being Semifinalists, the “highest scoring entrants in each state,” according to the National Merit Scholarship Corporation.

Semifinalists must then apply to become a Finalist. Only about 15,000 Semifinalists reach the Finalist standing. From there, NMSC selects the winners based on “the Finalist’s academic record, information about the school’s curricula and grading system, two sets of test scores, the high school official’s written recommendation, information about the student’s activities and leadership, and the Finalist’s own essay.”

Zimonick, one of this year’s Semifinalists, says that, to become a Finalist, “I need to score pretty high on my SAT and whoever reviews my application needs to think the essay that I wrote was decent.”

Only a little over 7,000 Finalists are awarded National Merit Scholarships, which can vary, but are all extremely prestigious.

Mr. Stary, an English and history teacher here at NDA, was also a Semifinalist when he was in high school.

“I was surprised by the honor,” said Stary, recalling his senior year, “especially since I didn’t even realize it was a possibility at the time…. It was great just to be recognized as a semifinalist.”

“It’s really an honor to make it to any stage of the program,” said NDA principal Dr. Ravizza. “We’re very proud of all the recognized students. It shows a lot of hard work and discipline.”

Becoming a Merit Scholar is not only extremely prestigious, it is also very beneficial to students.

“I got a lot more mail from colleges wanting me to consider applying,” said Stary about becoming a Semifinalist. In addition, he says, “It probably gave me a boost in applying to the UW, which was where I wanted to go.”

Being recognized on this national scale is truly an honor, and it benefits recipients long down the road.

“Whether our Semifinalists become Finalists or not,” said Ravizza, “we are proud of these students who have distinguished themselves among all other high school students in the U.S.”