Arrowhead High School Students Achieve National Merit Awards

Arrowhead High School Students Achieve National Merit Awards

According to the Arrowhead website, Arrowhead High School is well-known for its academic excellence. And this can be seen in the number of students who score high enough on the Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test (PSAT) / National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (NMSQT) to be recognized nationally.

The National Merit Scholarship program, an academic competition, gives recognition to high school students who qualify by scoring between 201 and 222 on their PSATs. Students who meet this requirement are in the top 0.5% test takers in their state, and top 1% in the country, according to one of Arrowhead’s guidance counselors, Angela Rodenkirch, and the National Merit Scholarship Corporation website (NMSC). These students are deemed as a Semifinalist, which enables them to compete to move on to the Finalist standing.

Rodenkirch says, “To advance to the rank of Finalist in the National Merit Scholarship program, students also need to have outstanding academic performance throughout high school, be endorsed by their school, and take the SAT exam.”

According to NMSC, about 1.5 million high school students in the United States take the PSATs, and 50,000 of those students with the highest score get recognized for the National Merit Scholarship program.

In early September, about 16,000 students, one-third of the 50,000 high scorers, were notified that they qualified for the Semifinalists.

Six Arrowhead students from the class of 2016 have qualified for the National Merit Semi-Finalist. These students include the following: Emilie Woltering, Duke Bednarke, Diya Ramanathan, Christopher Kneiser, Alyxandria Butt, and Sidney Michelini.

Rodenkirch says, “Typically, Arrowhead has between four and eight students earn this honor each year.”

Some of the Semi-Finalists tribute their academic success to the introductory level classes they took at South campus as freshmen and sophomores. However, the basic and advanced classes they took at both South and North Campus prepared and set them up for excellence on their PSATs.

Ramanathan says, “I would say that taking Honors English courses in 9th and 10th grade and then taking AP English Literature as a junior really prepared me for the reading portion of the PSAT because these courses taught me skills of literary analysis and critical reading.”

Bednarke said, “A lot of the preliminary classes, a lot of the ones you take freshman and sophomore year [prepared me to do well on the test]. Like the basic English classes, and the more basic math classes, like algebra and geometry.”

The National Merit Semi-Finalist title creates opportunities for college admissions and scholarships. According to a majority of the Semi-Finalist, they had to reevaluate their post-high school choices after they earned the award.

Rodenkirch says, “Being named as a National Merit Scholar Semi-Finalist is a great honor to list on a college application. Colleges know that this means that the student is academically talented and has worked hard in high school.”

Butt says, “Since some schools offer amazing scholarship packages for National merit Semi-Finalists and Finalists, my attention has been directed towards schools that I otherwise wouldn’t have considered, like the University of Oklahoma.”

Woltering says, “It definitely just widens my options for schools. Colleges I might have been concerned about getting into before now seem much more open for me.”

For Michelini, the award made finances and the cost for college more manageable because of the scholarship.

To prepare for their PSATs, most of the students said they did a lot of studying, reviewing, and took multiple practice tests.

Ramanathan says, “I began preparing for the PSAT about one month prior to the test administration, and I did about one practice test per week. I got my practice books from the Hartland Public Library, which is definitely a great resource that students should take advantage of.”

Bednarke took a previous PSAT elsewhere since AHS did not permit him to take it as a sophomore.

He says, “I knew exactly what I needed. And once I took it, I knew exactly what dynamics I needed to review over and then it wasn’t that bad.

Michelini says, “I did not study for the PSAT, but I did a substantial amount of ACT Prep which was pretty helpful on the PSAT.”

According to the Semi-Finalists, students should pay attention in class, focus on the basics, do at least one practice test, and of course, stay relaxed in order to do well on the test.

Michelini says, “Don’t worry so much about your score compared to others.”

Kneiser says, “Just give it your all.”

Recognition for the National Merit Scholarship program is an honor for the students who earn it. It also prides Arrowhead High School, for having so many of its students earn the award on account of its academic program.

Rodenkirch says, “Arrowhead is home to many hard-working, academically talented students. We are extremely pleased when our students earn this honor.”