St. Paul’s has a long history of academic achievement, and the National Merit program is no exception to Lasallian quality education. In this year’s National Merit race, nine students from St. Paul’s were selected as scholars, with five named as Semifinalist and four Commended Scholars.
With “quality education” one of St. Paul’s five core principles, many students take their academics very seriously. One indicator of testing success and prowess is the PSAT taken during students’ junior year of high school, which is the determining factor for National Merit standings.
“Honestly, we love recognition,” Assistant Principal and Curriculum Coordinator Joe Dickens said. “It’s always good public relations stuff, but it means a lot more for the students to achieve that. It does open up the door to some top notch schools. It opens up a surfeit amount of scholarship money for those students. We love to be able to publish that we had nine guys, whether they were Commended or Semifinalist. It’s an awesome recognition and opportunity for the kids who get the award.”
The five students named as Semifinalist are Luke Avenel, Patrick Conolly, Burak Kandil, Ryan Meraux and Andrew Mercante. St. Paul’s bested Archbishop Hannan High, St. Scholastica, and Mandeville High in number of Semifinalists on the northshore. Northshore High School — with a population of 1,465 students compared to St. Paul’s enrollment of 869 — was the only school to beat out St. Paul’s with eight Semifinalists.
National Merit members are often considered the very best during the college admission process, according to National Merit Scholarship Corporation, who runs the National Merit program. The title alone makes the scholars extremely competitive for some of the best universities in the nation and around the world. In addition, National Merit Scholarship Corporation confers their own scholarships upon deserving scholars to help further their academic careers.
“To me, it’s a great accomplishment that I worked hard to achieve. It means that I will have a better chance of getting into the colleges I want,” said senior Ryan Meraux, National Merit Semifinalist, who also achieved a 36 on his ACT. “I hope (this helps me) get a better scholarship to the college of my choice, Georgia Tech, and a greater chance of admission there.”
In early September, about 16,000 students, or approximately one-third of the 50,000 high scorers, are notified that they have qualified as Semifinalists. Semifinalists must advance to Finalist standing in the competition by meeting high academic standards and additional requirements explained in the information provided to each Semifinalist by National Merit Scholarship Corporation.
In late September, more than two-thirds (about 34,000) of the approximately 50,000 high scorers on the PSAT/NMSQT® receive Letters of Commendation in recognition of their outstanding academic promise. Commended Students are named on the basis of a nationally applied Selection Index score that may vary from year to year and is typically below the level required for participants to be named Semi-finalists in their respective states. This year’s Commended Scholars of St. Paul’s are Jacob Broussard, John Cresson, Ethan Desforges, and Harrison Prieto.
Finalist will be announced in early February by home mail.