Jeffco High Schoolers Receive National Honors

National Merit Scholars Semifinalists
Posted on 10/02/2018
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Six students at D’Evelyn Junior/Senior High were named as semifinalists in the National Merit Scholarship Program in late September, which represents 4 percent of their graduating class.

“The semifinalist recognition received by these six outstanding students reflects their intellect, work ethic, and commitment to excellence,” said D’Evelyn principal Josh Griffin.

The six D’Evelyn seniors earning National Merit Scholarship semifinalist status are Samantha Bakes, Cadence Fisher, Emma Dukesherer, Alan Li, Rory Devin, and Ian Widmann.

These students were among 24 National Merit Scholarship semifinalists attending Jeffco Public Schools, and the 221 students recognized across the state of Colorado for the 2018-2019 school year.

Each year, the National Merit Scholarship Program recognizes approximately 16,000 students from a pool of 1.6 million juniors in about 22,000 high schools who enter the scholarship program by taking the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test, which served as an initial screen of program entrants. The nationwide pool of semifinalists, represents less than one percent of U.S. high school seniors and includes the highest scoring entrants in each state.

Currently celebrating its 25th year and located in unincorporated Jefferson County, D’Evelyn Junior/Senior High School is a liberal arts, option school for students in grades 7 through 12. The liberal arts education is something Griffin believes added to his students’ success.

“For me as a principal, I’m proud of these kids,” he said. “It also means that the academic impact here is working. We have a liberal arts philosophy designed to be vertical and horizontally aligned — meaning each years course prepares for next year and what you’re studying in one class should be connected with that you’re studying in another. I believe test results reflect that.”

The school — which is home to the most 2019 semifinalists of all Jeffco Public Schools — also celebrated seven semifinalists and one scholarship winner last year.

“I think it’s a testament to our program,” said Devin, one of the six semifinalists. “I don’t think many people do extensive prep for the PSAT, but I think the program helps us prepare for it.”

Devin said he is excited to be semifinalist “it seems like it’s one of the increasingly rare high level accolades and scholarship programs based solely on academic performance rather than athletics or need.”

For Li, who lives in Golden, the recognition gives him pride.

“I think it’s a great honor to have,” he said, adding that he is continuing a legacy as his older brother was named a semifinalist last year.

For students like Dukesherer, being a semifinalist is important because it gives her something other than a transcript to show for the hard work she put into her academics.

The same is true for Madison Pixler, 17, a senior at Arvada West High School. Pixler, the only semifinalist from her school, worked hard to improve her PSAT score by 220 points by doing practice tests.

Golden High student Zak Chorny, 18, also worked to improve his test score using a question-a-day app.

“It’s pretty powerful being the only one from my school,” said Chrony. “My senior class is pretty small, but it’s pretty smart too…. For me to be the only one for Golden High, it adds emphasis to the honor of being a National Merit semifinalist.”

The semifinalists are invited to submit an application to earn finalist status. Finalists are eligible to receive a variety of academic awards/scholarships. To become a finalist, the semifinalist and his or her high school must submit a detailed scholarship application, in which they provide 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 throughout high school, 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.

Pixler is already almost complete with her finalist application. All National Merit Scholarship winners will be selected from this group of finalists.

Three types of National Merit Scholarships will be offered in the spring of 2019. Every Finalist will compete for one of 2,500 National Merit $2,500 scholarships that will be awarded on a state-representational basis. About 1,000 corporate-sponsored Merit Scholarship awards will be provided by approximately 230 corporations and business organizations for Finalists who meet their specified criteria, such as children of the grantor’s employees or residents of communities where sponsor plants or offices are located. In addition, about 180 colleges and universities are expected to finance some 4,000 college-sponsored Merit Scholarship awards for Finalists who will attend the sponsor institution.

National Merit Scholarship winners of 2019 will be announced beginning in April and concluding in July. These scholarship recipients will join some 338,000 other distinguished young people who have earned the Merit Scholar title.

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