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7 Gatton Academy seniors named National Merit Semifinalists

Seven seniors at the Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science in Kentucky at WKU have been recognized as semifinalists in the 2013 National Merit Scholarship Program, an honor which potentially opens the door to college scholarship opportunities.

More than 1.5 million students entered the 2013 National Merit Scholarship Program by taking the 2011 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. Students are tested in math, critical reasoning and writing. The 16,000 Semifinalists honored are the highest-scoring entrants in their state and represent less than 1 percent of each state’s high school seniors.

Since the Gatton Academy’s inception in 2007, the Gatton Academy has had 52 students named as National Merit Semifinalists.

The 2013 Gatton Academy National Merit Semifinalists are David Brown of Central City; Austin Merchant of Union; Jeet Parekh of Franklin; Hannah Pennington of Union; Tyler Powell of Hopkinsville; Samuel Saarinen of Shelbyville; and Duncan Wood of Maysville.

For these Gatton Academy seniors, the recognition is a great way to begin their final year of high school even as they focus on the college admissions process ahead. According to Gatton Academy Director Dr. Tim Gott, this is just the beginning of a busy — and rewarding — year.

“With this recognition, these students have earned a key that will open tremendous educational opportunities,” Gott said. “We look forward to seeing what these students will accomplish in the days ahead.”

To be considered in the rigorous competition for National Merit Scholarships, Semifinalists must advance to the Finalist level of the competition by meeting additional standard and fulfilling several requirements. These include having a record of very high academic performance of college preparatory course work, submitting SAT scores that confirm PSAT performance, and being fully endorsed and recommended by a high school official.

Since students take the qualifying PSAT exam in October of their junior year of high school, much of the preparation stems from learning opportunities during their freshman and sophomore years of high school. The Gatton Academy builds on those experiences to provide students with a robust application and preparation for the SAT, a critical component in becoming a finalist.

“It is an incredible honor to be named a National Merit Semifinalist,” Gott said. “These students have demonstrated a level of excellence that very few can claim. All of us, the Gatton staff and the schools they represent back home, value the opportunity to have worked with such outstanding young people.”

About the National Merit Scholarship Program

Established in 1955, National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) is an independent, not-for-profit organization that operates without government assistance. NMSC is exempt from taxation under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code and contributions to NMSC are tax deductible by the donor. NMSC conducts the National Merit® Scholarship Program and the National Achievement® Scholarship Program–annual competitions for recognition and college undergraduate scholarships.

Since its founding, NMSC has recognized 2.9 million students and provided over 360,000 scholarships worth more than $1.4 billion. The honors awarded by NMSC to exceptionally able students are viewed as definitive marks of excellence. Recipients of Merit Scholarship® awards, Achievement Scholarship® awards, and corporate-sponsored Special Scholarships have increased the nation’s respect for intellectual accomplishments and have contributed significantly to its talent pool of future leaders.

Contact: Chad Phillips, (270) 745-6565.

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