National Merit

Elizabeth McClain

Hard work, perseverance, motivation! All of these exceptional students have those and more in common. Since freshman year, they have worked hard to achieve their goals and push through their obstacles. 

In the past decade, the school has had 66 national merit semifinalists, 5 finalists in the class of 2019, and 9 semifinalists in the class of 2020. The semifinalists are Keane Van Trease, David Steichen, Sabina Busch, Sophia Ames, Ava Ernst, Andrew Henessee, William Thomas, Elena Lawson, and Jacob Surber. They have all met with Principal Jim Franz, and he enjoys giving the good news to the students, especially the smiles on their faces when they receive the information. 

“My favorite day of the whole year is when I get to tell kids that they’re National Merit semifinalists,” Franz said. 

To be a National Merit semifinalist, there are two tests to be taken, the PSAT and the NMSQT (National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test). Students, in the fall of their junior year, take the exams. Some sophomores take the test, but they cannot qualify as semifinalists. Based on the results of that, the top 1% are identified as National Merit semifinalists.  Fr. Duy believes that the National Merit is a wonderful thing and that it really reflects the students’ hard work and effort put into their education, to place in the top 1-3% in the state. 

“I think it’s a wonderful thing. I think it’s really something for a student to motivate and to work hard. Not just only for the title, but it is an opportunity for them just to challenge themselves on some level. It’s a reflection of their own studies, diligent work, and things like that,” Fr. Duy said. 

Each score on the exams must be higher than 214, in Oklahoma, to have the ability to become a National Merit semifinalist. Not always though, some years it may be 217, or 216, in Texas, it may be 218, and so on. The range varies by the top percent in that certain state. The equalizer is that any other student who would have qualified in the top 3% is identified as a National Merit commended scholar. The school receives the notifications in August of the students’ senior years. 

Sophie Ames (12) a semifinalist, is proud of her accomplishments and believes that her accomplishments would not be possible without the support of others. 

“Whenever I figured out that I was a national merit semifinalist, I was super excited because it means a lot for my future and my college, but there’s definitely no way I could’ve done it without all the awesome support and help from family and friends. Especially everybody here at Bishop Kelley,” Ames said. 

Overall, the titles that these remarkable people have earned will help them to and through their futures.