National Merit Program Honors AHS Seniors


By Dia Gill | Web Managing Editor

Juniors who take the PSAT are automatically entered into the National Merit Scholarship Program, an academic competition that can lead to scholarships and awards for students with qualifying scores. According to the College Board, of the thousands of students that take the PSAT in the fall, the top 1.25% qualify as National Merit Semifinalists and the next 3% are titled Commended students. Most Semifinalists go on to be named Finalists.

From Avon’s class of 2018, three students are Semifinalists and 15 are Commended students. The 15 commended students are Jacob Barrett, Dayne Barton, Brayden Enz, Mykyta Finchenko, Madeline Garcia, Brityn Heffron, Emilija Kaupaite, Zoe Kihlstrom, Andrew Lewis, Gabrielle Moreno, Claire Rightley, Christine Rodriguez, Haowei Shi, Alexander Shoemaker and Autumn Stanbary. Semifinalists include Patryk Baranski, Carson Zeller and Shelly Groves. As expected, these students will qualify for scholarship money.

“I imagine I’ll hear back from [the National Merit Scholar program] about what scholarships I qualify for, but I know Purdue—my first-choice school—gives me a whopping $500 a year, while schools from out of state would be ready to pay my full tuition,” Baranski said.

Baranski, who scored a 1470, is thankful for the practice that taking the PSAT provided, as well as the future opportunities it may present him with.

“I like being able to add it to my resume and I’m very grateful for the recognition I have received. The PSAT itself did a nice job of getting me ready for the real SAT, and National Merit will ultimately help me pay for college,” he said.

Senior class valedictorian Christine Rodriguez and student body president Madeline Garcia, both Commended students, were given the additional titles of National Hispanic Scholars. Rodriguez sees the honor as more than just a gateway to scholarships.

“Being Cuban-American myself, I’ve been in situations where people—kids and adults—have called me a communist, thrown slurs at me, or said that my dad was an illegal immigrant. Winning this award is not only proof that I can succeed regardless of any circumstances or challenges I may face, but that any Hispanic can accomplish so much more despite what others may say,” she said.

Rodriguez, who scored a 1430, is also eligible for scholarship money.

“I get a $4000 scholarship to Purdue, but other than that I don’t know.”

She also offered advice for any students hoping to score well and earn scholarship money in the future.

“Get some rest, eat some breakfast. Those are the two most important things you can do on test day. Look over material from classes you’ve taken long ago because you likely won’t remember anything, and learn from your mistakes,” Rodriguez said. “Also, don’t blow the PSAT off; there’s free money if you do well.”

Photos by Stacey Moore 

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