National Merit semifinalists named
Loyola senior Michael Schniappa, center, nervously waits to find out why he was called in to a meeting while sitting next to classmates Jennie Gault, left and Patrick Nally. | Rob Dicker~Sun-Times Media
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National Merit Scholarship semifinalists
Forsyth, Mary Therese
Frehe, Rosemary A.
Gault, Jennifer G.
Groden, Thomas J.
Hocter, John H.
Hussey, Megan P.
Kittle-Kamp, Veronica M.
Mulhall, Connor P.
Nally, Patrick J.
O’Brien, Catherine R.
Petersen, Matthew J.
Schiappa, Michael B.
Sullivan, Gavin S.
Torres, Ian N.
Venkus, Morgan M.
Wenzel, Alexander T.
Glenbrook South High School
Bream, Austin J.
Kim, Steven C.
Savaiano, Faith M.
Glenbrook North High School
Aber, Samuel L.
Hare, Patricia J.
Mehta, Rohan C.
O’Keefe, Brian P.
Skladman, Gabrielle M.
Woo, Elizabeth K.
New Trier High School
Ackerman, Courtney A.
Bounds, Hayley A.
Chen, Caroline J.
Chen, Eric T.
Dolan, Flannery C.
Gabrielides, Peter J.
Gong, Constance S.
Hack, Madelaine A.
Hall, Margaret G.
Harris, Griffin A.
Heavenrich, Samuel H.
Hyun, Meredith C.
Joyce, Elizabeth V.
Mang, Audrey G.
Mills, Dawson E.
Office, Emma E.
Pietrowicz, John W.
Robinson, William K.
Stempel, Benjamin J.
Sun, Joyce C.
Tan, Sydney F.
Tsang, Arthur L.
Watkin, Rachel L.
Weaver, Eliza H.
Wei, Miranda F.
Weller, Michael A.
Whisler, Cailin E.
Wold, Emma N.
Updated: October 21, 2012 1:19PM
High school students throughout the North Shore, from Loyola Academy to New Trier High School, were thrilled to learn last week that they had become National Merit Scholarship Semifinalists.
They were among 16,000 academically talented teenagers who scored well in the 58th annual National Merit Scholarship competition.
These high school seniors now will compete for 8,300 National Merit Scholarships valued at more than $32 million, which will be offered in the spring.
On Friday, Loyola Academy of Wilmette surprised its 20 National Merit semifinalists and one National Achievement semifinalist with ice cream and cake.
“You may be the largest number of students here to become semifinalists in one year,” Principal Kathryn Baal said. “We are thrilled for you. We know how hard you work day in and day out.”
To become a finalist, the semifinalists and their high schools must submit a detailed scholarship application providing information about each student’s academic record, honors and awards, leadership abilities and participation in school and community activities Baal said.
A semifinalist must have an outstanding academic record throughout high school, be recommended by a high school official, write an essay and earn SAT scores confirming the student’s performance on the qualifying test, she added.
Several 17-year-old seniors shared what they did or didn’t do to make it to the semifinals.
Alexander Wenzel, a Northbrook student at Loyola, said he didn’t do anything special to prepare for the test, but he did work constantly in class to learn on a daily basis. He is thinking about going into computers.
“I was raised to study and do my best all the time since I was little, and that’s what I did,” said Charles Schufreider, of Glenview. He also took preparation classes and is now planning to study classical languages such as Greek and Latin, since he is considering a career in medicine.
Mary Therese Forsyth, of Winnetka, said she took the test without any preparation, simply hoping to learn her baseline score.
“I was thrilled that I exceeded my personal expectations!” she said. “But this is just a test of skills, not an assessment of who I am. I’m open-minded about the future and the possibilities.”
Matthew Petersen, of Wilmette, said making semifinalist was just the “luck of the draw” for him.
“I did do practice problems online to prepare for the test, but I didn’t do anything crazy,” he said, noting that he is considering an aeronautical engineering career.
Samari Gilbert, of Gurnee, said she worked on practice tests before taking the test that really counted. She is thinking of going into law or economics, and becoming a patent attorney.
“But I think studying on a daily basis and having a good breakfast is what helped me,” she said.
Tom Groden, of Glenview, took no outside classes to help him get a good score, though he admitted that he is a good student because he applies himself daily.
“I think it’s all about the breakfast of an omelet and bacon that my mom made for me. That really helped,” he added.
He is planning to study finance, theology and art history. His dream job would be to become a journalist and anchor a world news program, he said.
John Hoctor and Patrick Dancer, both of Glencoe, attended a more than two-hour session every Sunday for six weeks to sharpen their skills and would do it again.
Semifinalists who attend New Trier agreed with many of the Loyola students that it was their routine study that took them to semifinalist status.
Wilmette student Dale Watt said that his preparations were simply a good night’s sleep and a good breakfast. He has always taken his every day class work seriously, he added. Now he plans to study physics and astronomy in the hope of working at NASA.
Liz Joyce of Winnetka, another semifinalist from New Trier, said her secret for success was training her mind to focus on school work, even though she also loves tennis.
“It paid off for this testing. Now I’m considering pre-med,” she said. “I would also suggest that anyone who takes this test not freak themselves out about it.”
Of about 16,000 semifinalists, 15,000 are expected to advance to the finalist level. They will learn in February who have become finalists.