Congratulations to our National Merit Semi-finalists!

Melina Scott , Editor

High-end scholarships can be very difficult to come by, and those like the National Merit Scholarship are famous not only for their high-paying nature, but also for the difficulty in the process of being selected for scholarships like these. This week, however, five of our star Helena High scholars became semi-finalists in this scholarship selection program. The Nugget is here to give our congratulations to Aurora Boutin, Aidan Morris, Ben Ries-Roncalli, Sonja Severston, and Elena Skibicki for their outstanding hard work and performances on the PSAT. Also, an honorable mention for Danielle Ulberg, who received a letter of commendation for her educational success.

So what is the National Merit Scholarship? “It’s all based on the PSAT that I took last year,” says Aurora Boutin, adding, “…they look at all the scores and the students in the 99th percentile qualify as semi-finalists.” Boutin isn’t sure about what school she would like to attend yet, but she plans on majoring in political science and hopes this scholarship will help get her there. She notes that the scholarship itself is 2500 dollars, but to even be considered for it can help students when applying for other scholarships and college consideration. To qualify in that percentile is very difficult, and students must make certain sacrifices. Boutin said she has “taken consistently difficult classes,” but that what was most important was “time management…and knowing the material.” Sonja Severtson, a semi-finalist hoping to attend an out-of-state school for math or science, also emphasized the time portion of the test as well, and said that saying, “…mostly focused on the structure and time constraints of the tests.” Take note, juniors!

The fact that Helena High has five qualifying semi-finalists is also a considerable achievement; on average, nearly 15,000 students become semi-finalists per year in the United States. Though nearly every major high school in Montana had at least two semi-finalists, Helena in particular had an  impressive amount, with five at Helena High, and two students at Capital High. Mr. Thennis said that this was, “very impressive…it’s pretty limited in the scope.”  On that note, we also congratulate Beatrice Pujol and Ethan Davidson at CHS for their outstanding educational success! To qualify to be a finalist, the semi-finalists must keep up their academic excellence, be recommended by the principle, and have plans for college directly after their last year of high school.  Only half of these finalists typically receive the actual scholarship, which will be mailed to student’s doorsteps in March. Best of luck to Helena’s seven qualifiers!

Ultimately, congratulations to our semi-finalists for doing such an amazing job not only on the PSAT, but also throughout their entire high school career. Thank you for making Helena High proud!  

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