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11 Gatton Academy seniors named National Merit Finalists

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Eleven Gatton Academy seniors learned Friday (Feb. 13) they were selected as National Merit Finalists.

Since The Gatton Academy’s inception in 2007, 72 students have been named National Merit Semifinalists. Sixty-three Gatton Academy seniors took the PSAT®, meaning 17.5 percent of the students made the National Merit Finalist level.

The 2014-2015 National Merit Finalists from The Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science in Kentucky are:

  • Meredith Bickett, daughter of Gary and Karen Bickett, from Owensboro Catholic High School.
  • Andrew Brown, son of Kevin and Paula Brown, from Muhlenberg County High School.
  • Benjamin Guthrie, son of Chris and Nicole Guthrie, from Bowling Green High School.
  • Cameron Hubbard, son of Mac and Sandra Hubbard, from duPont Manual High School.
  • Dimitri Leggas, son of Mark and Suzanne Leggas, from Lafayette High School.
  • John Meyers III, son of Diana Robertson and John and Sarah Meyers, from Tates Creek High School.
  • NaKeya Owens, daughter of Kevin and Beth Owens, from South Laurel High School.
  • Valerie Richmond, daughter of Tom Richmond, from Bowling Green High School.
  • Benjamin Riley, son of Michael and Sarah Riley, from Saint Xavier High School.
  • Rena Ryumae, daughter of Kyong and Masaru Ryumae, from Larry A. Ryle High School.
  • William Walters, son of John and Billie Walters, from Paul Laurence Dunbar High School.

To become a Finalist, a Semifinalist had to have an outstanding academic record, be endorsed and recommended by a high school official, write an essay, and earn SAT® scores that confirm the student’s earlier performance on the PSAT®. From the group of more than 15,000 Finalists, the National Merit Scholarship Corporation will select approximately 8,000 Merit Scholarship recipients in April.

Approximately 1.4 million juniors entered the 2015 National Merit Scholarship Program by taking the 2013 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT®), which serves as the initial screen of program entrants. From this list comes the nationwide pool of Semifinalists, representing approximately 1 percent of U.S. high school seniors, and includes the highest scoring entrants in each state.

“We are honored to serve such outstanding students and we recognize the important foundation students received in their home high schools,” said Dr. Lynette Breedlove, Director of The Gatton Academy. “These students choose to challenge themselves intellectually while at the same time being students of character who actively contribute to The Gatton Academy’s supportive community.”

Since students take the qualifying PSAT® exam in October of their junior year of high school, much of their 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.

For information about The Gatton Academy, visit www.wku.edu/academy or call (270) 745-2971.

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 3 million students and provided over 387,000 scholarships worth more than $1.5 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.

About The Gatton Academy: Established in 2007, The Gatton Academy is Kentucky’s first residential high school for gifted and talented junior and seniors. The Gatton Academy’s students enroll as juniors and are full-time WKU students pursuing their interests in advanced science, technology, engineering and mathematical careers. The Gatton Academy has been named the number one public high school in the United States by The Daily Beast for three consecutive years – 2012, 2013 and 2014.

Contact: Zack Ryle, (270) 745-2971


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