12 students awarded national merit semifinalists

Reaching for the stars: The 12 National Merit Semifinalists from RBHS sit in the PAC lobby and listen to their counselors, principal and gifted instructors speak. The students are all competing to become finalists, which will be announced in February.

Reaching for the stars: The 12 National Merit Semifinalists from RBHS sit in the PAC lobby and listen to their counselors, principal and gifted instructors speak. The students are all competing to become finalists, which will be announced in February.

Thomas Jamieson-Lucy

Reaching for the stars: The 12 National Merit Semifinalists from RBHS sit in the PAC lobby and listen to their counselors, principal and gifted instructors speak. The students are all competing to become finalists, which will be announced in February.

Out of the nation’s 16,000 National Merit Semifinalists, RBHS has 12. These students now move on in hopes of becoming finalists eligible for 8,300 available scholarships.

“It looks really good on college applications,” senior Christian Ackmann said. “Whereas only 16,000 semifinalists, and if I am lucky enough to go on to become a finalist, there are 15,000 of those and approximately 8,300 of them will actually receive scholarships. So I might get a little edge on my college application and some scholarship money.”
The semifinalists besides Ackmann are seniors David Berry, Riaz Helfer, Katherine Hobbs, Elena Horvit, Avantika Khatri, Amy Scott, Nicholas Sun, Methma Udawatta, Christina Wang, Walter Wang and Angela Zhang. The fact that they have become semifinalists gives them an academic advantage when they are applying to colleges.
Guidance secretary Lynne Moore said between 12 and 15 semifinalists are named from RBHS each year. The semifinalist can receive scholarships from colleges outside of the national merit program just for being a National Merit Semifinalist.
“It depends on what school they’re going to go to. Some schools actually offer complete, really nice scholarships for them. Some schools it’s just more recognition; it’s easier to get into that school,” Moore said. “It depends totally on what schools they’re looking at.”
Once named, a semifinalist moves on to compete to become one of the 15,000 finalists. To become a finalist, students have to complete several tasks. They must submit a letter of recommendation from a teacher, take the SAT to confirm that their score was not a fluke, submit an essay based on a prompt similar to that of the common application and fill out basic paper work.
Semifinalists will learn whether or not they are finalists in February, and if they have any scholarships by March, according to www.nationalmerit.org.
As juniors, these students took the PSAT in October 2010 competing with Missouri students to get a qualifying score for National Merit Scholarship program with a test score index from 60-240. In order to be in the top 16,000, students must score above a cutoff number determined each year by the overall success of the students that last took the test, this year being 212.
For now, the semifinalists are glad they no longer have to wonder whether or not they are advancing to the next stage of the scholarship application.
“I knew what the standard was last year and so since I was four points above the standard from last year I kind of figured there was a little bit of leeway there,” Ackmann said. “So even though I was only one point over the standard I had a feeling I might get it.”
By Thomas Jamieson-Lucy