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7 Gatton Academy seniors named National Merit Semifinalists

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Seven seniors from The Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science in Kentucky have been recognized as semifinalists in the 2015 National Merit Scholarship Program.

Since The Gatton Academy’s inception in 2007, 79 students have been named National Merit Semifinalists. Fifty-eight current Gatton Academy seniors took the PSAT, meaning 12.1 percent of the students made the National Merit Semifinalist level.

The 2015 National Merit Semifinalists from The Gatton Academy are Niven Achenjang of Barbourville, Linyue “Joy” Fan of Bowling Green, William Hornsby of Union/Bowling Green, Lucas Knight of Owensboro, Kristen Pedersen of Barbourville, Leslie Pike of Hodgenville and Emma Saarinen of Shelbyville.

Approximately 1.5 million juniors entered the 2015 National Merit Scholarship Program by taking the 2014 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 less than 1 percent of U.S. high school seniors, and includes the highest scoring entrants in each state.

“We applaud the excellent preparation our students received in their home high schools as freshman and sophomores,” said Director of The Gatton Academy Dr. Lynette Breedlove. “We are very proud of this outstanding group of students and will support them in their bids for Finalist status. These students are not just academically talented. They are wonderful people who contribute to The Gatton Academy community in many ways.”

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.

From the approximately 16,000 semifinalists, about 15,000 are expected to advance to the Finalist level. To become a finalist, a semifinalist must 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 qualifying test. Finalists will be announced in February with scholarship recipients being notified in four nationwide releases beginning in April and concluding in July.

For information about The Gatton Academy, visit www.wku.edu/academy or call (270) 745-6565.

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.

Contact: Zack Ryle, (270) 745-2971

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