This morning, nine RBHS seniors were named National Merit Semifinalists, Interim Principal Cathy Ritter confirmed. Seniors who received this honor took the PSAT in October of their junior year and scored in the 99th percentile of Missouri test-takers. One of the semifinalists, senior Javan Whitney-Warner, said that it is an honor to have been among Missouri’s top scorers.
“I was excited that I had this opportunity,” Whitney-Warner said. “But I’m also a bit stressed because it means another application that I have to deal with.”
Joining Whitney-Warner as semifinalists are seniors Annie Barnett, Hannah Chen, Luke Chval, Sergey Gruzdev, Zoya Khan, Jenna Liu, Derek Wang and Joshua Whittom.
“Right now these are National Merit semifinalists who will go on to complete some paperwork and compete to be a National Merit Scholar,” Ritter said. “In any case, the student will have opportunities for entrances to college and scholarship money. A lot of nice things happen.”
All 16,000 semifinalists in the nation will need to submit a final application by October 7 in order to have a chance at becoming a National Merit Finalist, a distinction awarded to roughly 90 percent of semifinalists.
Students achieve finalist status by meeting high academic standards and scoring well on the SAT. The 15,000 finalists named can compete for the 7,400 National Merit Scholarships offered in the Spring.
“I would say [the scholarships] are significant, but it depends on the college,” Ritter said. “I would say there are some full scholarships and financial benefits at anywhere [the semifinalist] goes.
For senior Zoya Khan, another semifinalist, the resources and possibilities RBHS has offered have been very beneficial to her success.
“I think RBHS has offered a lot of opportunities that let me branch out my interests more, so I’ve been able to challenge myself more in classes than I would be able to do at a smaller school, Khan said. “That’s probably the main way [RBHS] has helped me be a semifinalist.”
Khan said the news was slightly unexpected, but that she is very excited to have qualified for semifinalist standing.
“I was a little bit surprised,” Senior Zoya Khan said. “When I got my score last year I thought I might become one, but overall I was surprised when I got the message.”
Unlike Khan, Whitney-Warner said she had been expecting some kind of National Merit recognition after scoring well last October, despite minimal preparation.
“[On the PSAT] I totally winged it, especially since I woke up late that morning and was rushing to get to the test,” Whitney-Warner said. “My percentiles were good when I got the score report back, but I was a little surprised [when they told us] because it’s been so long since I even thought about the test,” Whitney Warner said. “
Khan said she prepared for the PSAT by taking a few practice tests, but mostly relied on what she learned throughout high school to help her succeed on the exam. For Khan, taking the PSAT her sophomore year as practice was also a big help in knowing what to do for the test her junior year.
“Take the sophomore PSAT seriously because it’s good preparation for the one junior year when it will actually count,” Khan said. “Secondly, pay attention in class because the PSAT is all about how to critically think, so paying attention in class really helps with that skill.”
Registration for the October PSAT is now taking place in the guidance office. Juniors and sophomores who would like to sign up for the test, taking place Oct. 14, should bring $25 for the registration fee.