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16 Gatton Academy seniors named National Merit Finalists

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Sixteen Gatton Academy seniors learned this week they were selected as National Merit Finalists.

Since The Gatton Academy’s inception in 2007, 97 students have been named National Merit Semifinalists. Fifty-eight Gatton Academy seniors took the PSAT® as juniors last year, meaning 27.6 percent of the students made the National Merit Finalist level.

The 2016-2017 National Merit Finalists 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
  • 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
  • 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

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 7,500 Merit Scholarship recipients between April and July.

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 1 percent of U.S. high school seniors, and includes the highest scoring entrants in each state.

“It is very exciting to have such a large percentage of The Gatton Academy senior class recognized as National Merit Finalists. I am proud of their academic achievement,” said Dr. Lynette Breedlove, Director of The Gatton Academy. “These are remarkable students in many ways. Not only are they academically talented, among these students you will find artists, musicians, researchers, global travelers, leaders, community servants and friends. I am proud of the people they are and the leaders they are becoming.”

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 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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