Seven Westside Seniors Qualify as National Merit Semifinalists


Image Courtesy of Westside Community Schools Twitter.

Seven Westside seniors qualify as semifinalists for the National Merit scholarship.

With their high school careers coming to an end, many seniors are doing all they can to lower their future college expenses. Many scholarship programs such as the National Merit competition help to open new opportunities for scholarships for students with exceptional scores.

Seniors John Dodge, Virginia Jansen, Augustus Parsonage, Andrew Li, Edward Morrissette, Ava Steele and Max Zweiback took the PSAT and their scores qualified them to be National Merit Semifinalists.

Guidance counselor Lisa Hatch said the process of becoming a semifinalist is both rigorous and selective. Hatch said students are currently working on applications that include essays and information on their high school courses and activities. While the pool of PSAT scores is trimmed down to 16,000 students for the semifinalist qualification, 15,000 of those will qualify to be finalists, meaning most semi-finalists have a great chance of becoming finalists and earning the scholarship.

Hatch also said that receiving the semifinalist award comes with several benefits for these Westside students.

“I think it really helps with their college resumes,” Hatch said. “It sets them apart from other applicants especially if they are at the top of their class.”

Senior John Dodge said he didn’t study that much for the PSAT and he feels lucky that he became a semifinalist. Dodge said his academic habits from previous years are what helped him qualify.

“I think being interested in getting good grades was helpful because it pushed me to grow academically and become a semifinalist,” Dodge said.

Dodge said he’s happy to have become a semifinalist but is doubtful of its benefits outside of his schooling.

“It will help me to get into college,” Dodge said. “But after college, it won’t help at all.”

Dodge said if he could thank anyone for his qualification it would be his math instructor, Linda Rau.

Hatch said that if any students want to receive the National Merit Scholarship, the first step is taking the PSAT.

“National Merit sets a new standard for what score they use every year,” Hatch said. “Just do your best, [your score] is up to you.”