Local Students Named 2009 National Merit Scholarship Semifinalists

By: KBTX Staff Email
By: KBTX Staff Email

Ten Bryan/College Station students are among approximately 16,000 students nationally to become 2009 National Merit Scholar Semifinalists.

To become a finalist, a semifinalist must have an outstanding academic record throughout high school, be endorsed and recommended by the school principal, and earn SAT scores that confirm the student's earlier qualifying test performance.

The following are the local semifinalists:

A&M Consolidated High School: Robert Cheyne, Nathan Cooner, Ali El-Halwagi, Rachel Flores-Meath, Elizabeth Furuta, Emily Reese and Ellen Smith.

Bryan High School: Benjamin Bracher and Lindsey Spiegelman.

St. Joseph High School: Elliott Pearce

The following is a press release from St. Joseph regarding Elliott Pearce

St. Joseph High School senior Elliott Pearce was one of approximately 16,000 students nationally to become a 2009 National Merit Scholar Semifinalist. Semifinalists have the opportunity to continue in the competition for some 8,200 National Merit® Scholarships worth more than $35 million. About 90 percent of the Semifinalists are expected to reach Finalist standing, and about half of the finalists will win a National Merit Scholarship, earning them the much coveted Merit Scholar® title.

Over 1.5 million juniors in over 21,000 high schools entered the 54th annual National Merit Scholarship Program by taking the 2007 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT®). The nationwide pool of Semifinalists, which represents less than one percent of U.S. high school seniors, includes the highest scoring entrants in each state.

To become a Finalist, a Semifinalist must have an outstanding academic record throughout high school, be endorsed and recommended by the high school principal, and earn SAT scores that confirm the student’s earlier performance on the qualifying test. Throughout his high school career, Pearce has earned a 4.0 or higher GPA, so he surely makes the grade. But Elliott has also won the resounding endorsement of both St. Joseph Catholic High School Principal Mark Gherardi, and System President Sister Mary Brian Bole, SSND.

“Elliott's unique ability to reason demonstrates the distinctive character of a genius,” says Gherardi. He “combines the innocent spontaneity of a child with the passion of an adult who is striving for perfection.”

“Elliott Pearce is an articulate, passionate young man whose moral compass enlivens all of his conversations and interests,” explains Sister Mary Brian. “He exemplifies the best of St. Joseph School, and we are very proud of him.”

Pearce, the son of James and Lois Pearce of College Station, is an “All-A+” honor roll student, a member of the National Honor Society, and is in his fourth year on the St. Joseph Catholic High School varsity football team. Elliott has been playing the trombone since middle school and earned a spot in the All-Region Band the past two years, and was named to the All-Area Band last year.

In addition to his impressive academic and extra-curricular resume, Pearce made waves this summer as a representative to the American Legion’s Texas Boys’ State. And last fall, he became a high school intern with the Wiley Lecture Series at Texas A&M University. Normally, these internships are a one-year appointment given only to seniors. Pearce is now entering his second year as an intern working on the Programming and Research Subcommittee. This committee is in charge of brainstorming and researching topic ideas and possible Wiley speakers for their programs. Interns are considered full Wiley members and are required to attend weekly meetings and monthly Wiley programs.

Pearce plans to apply to several different universities including Princeton, West Point, the University of Chicago, and the University of Dallas in pursuit of a liberal arts degree. He would like to pursue a career in the military and eventually enter the world of politics.
Approximately 15,000 Semifinalists are expected to advance to the Finalist level and it is from this group that all National Merit Scholarships will be chosen. The 2009 winners will be announced in four nationwide news releases beginning in April and concluding in July. These scholarship recipients will join more than 259,000 other distinguished young people who have earned the Merit Scholarship title.

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