SPS National Merit Scholars Numbers Reach New High

Newly named National Merit Scholars include (seated) Aaron Nguyen, Connor Lu, Jack Dubrieul, and Matthew Baldone and (standing) Beau Briggs, Max Gold, Ryan Keller, Walden Perry and George Cazenavette. (photo by Karen Hebert)

(COVINGTON, La) — This year, St. Paul’s School boasts nine National Merit Scholars who achieved exemplary scores on the Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test (PSAT), which is an extraordinary accomplishment according to 10th and 11th grade counselor Christine Woodard, one of the school’s test coordinators.

“We have six National Merit Semifinalists and three Commended Scholars, nine total. This is a great showing for our school. In a year’s time, we went from three to nine,” said Assistant Principal Joe Dickens.

According to Principal Trevor Watkins, the increase in number of students that achieved National Merit was due to hard work by the students and teachers, a rigorous curriculum,  a change in SPS test preparation, and “a school climate that encourages students to do well on these tests and that supports and rewards their achievements.”

“All 10th graders take the PSAT, and we identify potential National Merit guys when we get the results back. We then strongly encourage those that have the potential to enroll in the prep classes,” Watkins said.

SPS is pleased with how many students achieved this accomplishment, but administration is still hungry for more.

“Ultimately, I’d like to send a few faculty members off for training so that our own personnel can do the prep work,” Watkins said.

Both Watkins and Dickens believe that the sudden increase is attributed to the new PSAT prep classes available to students.

“The PSAT prep classes that we offer after hours on campus undoubtedly had an impact,” said Dickens.

According to Dickens and Watkins, the strides made in increased PSAT scores have primarily come from the efforts of Woodard.

“I am thrilled that we have nine students that accomplished this,” Woodard said, who feels that all the PSAT work teachers have done in the classroom has really helped increase the scores for students.

“I think that the younger students will have an advantage because they could potentially have taken the test three times before their junior year,” Woodard noted.

The National Merit program offers huge scholarship opportunities for students that achieve the “Scholar” designation.

“I am very excited to be a Semi-Finalist,” said Matthew Baldone, one of the recently named Scholars. “It is an awesome feeling to know that all the work I put in actually paid off.”

Baldone also is very thankful for all of the prep materials Woodard got for the school. “I think that the prep class helped me get to where I am,” Baldone said.


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