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Record number of Gatton Academy seniors named National Merit semifinalists

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18 recognized in 2016 scholarship program

Eighteen seniors from The Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science in Kentucky have been recognized as semifinalists in the 2016 National Merit Scholarship Program, marking the most students recognized in one school year in the school’s history.

Since The Gatton Academy’s inception in 2007, 97 students have been named National Merit Semifinalists. Fifty-eight current Gatton Academy seniors took the PSAT, meaning 31 percent of the students made the National Merit Semifinalist level.

The 2016 National Merit Semifinalists from The Gatton Academy are:

  • Katie Alexander (Louisville Male High School) of Louisville
  • Alexander Banaszak (Oldham County High School) of Crestwood
  • Vishnu “Karthik” Boyareddygari (South Warren High School) of Bowling Green
  • Matthew Broadbent (Heritage Christian Academy) of Cerulean
  • Katherine Brown (duPont Manual High School) of Louisville
  • Mark Carrender (Somerset Christian School) of Somerset
  • Matthew Courtwright (Marion County High School) of Campbellsville
  • Veronica Johnson (Bowling Green High School) of Bowling Green
  • Aaron Kirtland (South Oldham High School) of Crestwood
  • Elaine Losekamp (Greenwood High School) of Bowling Green
  • Benjamin Luckett (Woodford County High School) of Versailles
  • Samuel Newton (Central Hardin High School) of Elizabethtown
  • Eileen Price (duPont Manual High School) of Louisville
  • Sara Saeed (duPont Manual High School) of Louisville
  • Taylor Senay (Elizabethtown High School) of Elizabethtown
  • Patricia Thompson (Owensboro Catholic High School) of Owensboro
  • Jessica Williams (Randall K. Cooper High School) of Florence
  • Amanda Zahn (Larry A. Ryle High School) of Walton

Approximately 1.6 million juniors entered the 2016 National Merit Scholarship Program by taking the 2015 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 one percent of U.S. high school seniors, and includes the highest scoring entrants in each state.

“The Gatton Academy’s Class of 2017 is clearly remarkable.  This is one of many ways in which our students outstandingly represent the Commonwealth and their home communities. We applaud the excellent preparation our students received in their sending high schools and school districts,” said Director of The Gatton Academy Dr. Lynette Breedlove.  “We are proud of the hard work and focus with which these students pursue academic achievement.  We are also proud of how they contribute to the community within our school, in Bowling Green, and in their hometowns.”

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 and their school must submit a detailed scholarship application, which provides information about the Semifinalist’s academic record, participation in school and community activities, demonstrated leadership abilities, employment, and honors and awards received.  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 conducts the National Merit® Scholarship Program and the National Achievement® Scholarship Program–annual competitions for recognition and college undergraduate scholarships. 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 to The Washington Post’s list of top-performing schools with elite students for eight consecutive years and was 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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