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11 seniors qualify as semifinalists for National Merit Scholarship

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11 seniors qualify as semifinalists for National Merit Scholarship

Graphic by Selina Ding.

Graphic by Selina Ding.

Graphic by Selina Ding.

Graphic by Selina Ding.

By Matthew Proestel

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Eleven seniors qualified as semifinalists for the National Merit Scholarship Sept. 13, in recognition of scores they received on the PSAT in junior year.

The semifinalists are seniors Alice Aubert, Camille Caldera, Ray Crist, Joshua Engels, Benjamin Gorman, James Mackall, Liam Marshall, Rory Nevins, Paolo Pergami-Peries, Joshua Rich and Ryan Shaffer.

The National Merit Scholarship Corporation awards scholarships to around 15,000 students who score in the top percentile nationwide on the PSAT. Scholarship winners can earn a monetary reward to help with the college expenses by submitting applications to the NMSC and individual colleges.

Last September, ten seniors attained semifinalist status. Guidance counselor Kari Wislar said the number of students selected this year was not surprising.

“There is always a pretty large group of Whitman students that are semifinalists for the scholarship as well as many Whitman students that have been finalists for the award,” Wislar said.

Semifinalists had to earn a selection index of 222 or higher on the test. To calculate a selection index score, the College Board doubles the sum of the individual’s math, reading and writing section scores. Each section’s score ranges from 8-38, and the selection index scores range from 48 to 228 points.

To advance as a finalist, semifinalists must submit an application to the NMSC consisting of their high school academic performance, official SAT scores, a personal essay and a list of extracurricular activities.

National Merit Scholars have the opportunity to apply for three different scholarships: $2,500 National Merit Scholarships, which are one-time awards from the NMSC; college-sponsored scholarships and corporate-sponsored scholarships offered to children of a corporate sponsor’s employees.

Senior Ray Crist was overjoyed when he learned he was a semifinalist, he said.

“I was really excited,” Crist said. “It was a big honor, but I was also nervous because I had to fill out an application to hopefully be a finalist.”

Aubert said she was surprised when she heard the news.

“I’d taken the test a year ago, and when they called me down to the office, I had no idea why and was afraid I was in trouble,” Aubert said.

Unlike Aubert, Engels was expecting a call down to the office.

“I already kind of knew that I was going to be a semifinalist,” said Engels. “I got my score back a couple weeks after the test and when I checked online, it looked like I was in the score range to be a semifinalist.”

The semifinalists, if they wish to, can send their applications to the NMSC by Oct. 11 to have a chance at becoming a finalist.

Camille Caldera is an online copy editor for The Black & White.

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