Griffitt, Edgar, Zellner Announced as National Merit Scholarship Semi-finalists

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James Bosco, Staff Writer, Advanced Journalism

The National Merit Scholarship Program gives scholarships to high school students who perform exceedingly well on the PSAT and fulfill the additional requirements to be eligible. Scholarships are given to honor scholastic vigor and achievement and to encourage students to reach their full academic potential. Seniors Ava Griffitt, Claire Edgar and Zach Kellner have been chosen as semi-finalists in a heated race to win a National Merit Scholarship for their academic excellence.

  • What do you have to do now that you’re a National Merit Scholarship semi-finalist?

Ava Griffitt: In order to qualify to be a finalist, I need to take the SAT and score in the top percentile and submit an application with an essay. If I get in (fingers crossed!), then I will receive a scholarship, and I can say that I am nationally recognized as a finalist.

Claire Edgar: I have a series of hoops to jump through before I can be considered for finalist. I have to provide a high school transcript and my report card since freshman year. My SAT score should be high enough to reflect NMSC (National Merit Scholar Competition) finalist status, so I am going to take it again in November. I also have to submit a list of my most significant honors, extracurriculars and achievements over the last four years. The essay is the last part of the application, and it can describe an experience I have had, explain an obstacle I have overcome, or talk about a person who has influenced my life.

Zach Kellner: Ava, Claire, and I are currently semifinalists, so we need to fill out an application to become finalists. If I become a finalist, I am eligible for certain scholarships/grants. This application includes an essay and a brief resume.

  • What class has challenged you the most?

Griffitt: Either HL Math with Mr. Guyette or SL Philosophy with Mr. Gray—both have pushed me to the limits of my thinking and involved a lot of work outside of class time. Philosophy was especially challenging because I am a visual learner, and the class is more auditorily focused.

Edgar: IB Higher Level Math has been very difficult for me because Mr. Guyette, the teacher, has a hands-off teaching method. He also pushes us through the material fairly quickly, so it takes a lot of self discipline and prioritization to keep up.

Kellner: Philosophy class has challenged me the most. It exposed me to new ideas and broadened my perspective on arguably the most important questions there are. It really helped me be more open-minded and gave me an appreciation of differing viewpoints. Equally significant is that Mr. Gray exposes us to difficult literature with very specialized vocabulary. The philosophical words and phrases I have learned in that class are immensely helpful in trying to articulate certain concepts. I highly recommend this class (especially to current sophomores, as they have the option to take the full two years).

  • What class have you liked the most?

Griffitt: Probably Chinese class or German class because I love learning the languages and cultures of other places around the world.

Edgar: I like IB English the most of my classes because Mrs. Brown always has exciting stories and anecdotes to contribute to the class work, and she makes amazing cookies.  

Kellner: I enjoy the coursework in most of my classes, but if I had to pick a favorite it would be math. This is partly because I enjoy doing math and partly because my teachers have been great at promoting a deeper understanding of concepts than pure memorization. This really makes it fun and much easier.

  • What does it mean to you to win this award?

Griffitt: I am so happy that I qualified for this because it will hopefully help me with college admissions.

Edgar: I honestly didn’t know I had won this award until Mr. Browne announced my name during the pep assembly, so I was pretty surprised and excited. This award makes up for all the hard work and stress involved in balancing academics, extracurriculars, family and community involvement.

Kellner: Hopefully it means scholarship money!

        Where are you planning on attending school and why?

Griffitt: I want to either go to Case Western Reserve University for their medical program or University of Washington, Seattle, because I fell in love with that city this summer.

Edgar: I have a few favorite schools, but my dream school is Washington and Lee University, which both of my sisters attended.

Kellner: My #1 school is the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, but that is a reach so I am not sure where I am most likely to attend. I am drawn to MIT because of my experience with its culture from reading its blogs and talking to a current student and an admissions representative. I also love its academics, and it seems like a great place for me to push myself to my limit.

  • What do you plan to study/do after college?

Griffitt: I plan to go into the medical field to become an ophthalmologist.

Edgar: I hope to study physics and engineering in college and become a historic preservation architect.

Kellner: I plan on attending graduate school in mathematics/physics, but I am still open to going into industry.