Every fall, the PSAT is given to all juniors as part of the National Merit Scholarship program. Students who score in the top 1% are named National Merit Semifinalists, which qualifies them for scholarships, and students who score in the top 3% are named National Merit Commended students. In the Class of 2020, Erin Callahan, Taylor Collett, Harper Esterle, Brianna Taylor, Josh Twomey, and Zach Twomey were among the National Merit Commended, and Dominic Daley, Madison Kouche, Jack Munzel, and Tara Reich were named National Merit Semifinalists.
“After the initial surprise wore off, I was very excited,” Kouche said.
Being a National Merit Semifinalist or Commended student can open doors and create opportunities to the honorees.
“This recognition allows for me to include another honor on my college applications and resume; this allows for me to show colleges that I am a strong student and it opens doors to honors colleges and honors/merit programs within colleges,” Taylor said.
McNicholas offers several challenging courses, and many of the students who were recognized believe that these have helped prepare them for the PSAT. “I felt especially challenged during APUSH, Algebra 2, and AP Physics 1. These classes stand out in my mind as rigorous and intellectually stimulating,” Munzel added.
Students also believe that McNicholas has helped to prepare them not only for the PSAT, but for the next stage of their lives. “McNick’s co-ed education and rigorous curriculum simultaneously produces an environment that I know will leave me more than well equipped for college next year,” Esterle said.
“McNick showed me how to stick to my morals through thick and thin, and how to make my own paths to solve the problems I faced every day,” Callahan said.
“McNick has taught me to be self-sufficient: that often times things will not go your way and you need to be resourceful to succeed. I’ve also made a lot of good friends at McNick that support me whenever I’m feeling stressed or low,” said Reich, a semifinalist.
The seniors don’t all know what they want to do once they graduate high school, but they all have plans to have a positive change on the world. “Frankly, I want to solve too many problems and that makes it difficult to find one to focus on,” said Daley. “If I had to put it in words, I’d say I want to find a way to solve problems without dividing people, or I want to solve the problems that divide people so that they no longer feel like they have to maintain the divide.”