GH, SL seniors named National Merit semifinalists

Krystle Wagner • Sep 25, 2017 at 1:00 PM

Four area high school seniors are receiving national recognition for their test scores.

Grand Haven’s John Richardson and Noah Merriman, and Spring Lake’s Connor Burke and Nathan Peterson are among about 16,000 students throughout the country named as the National Merit semifinalists.

About 1.6 million high school juniors took the 2016 SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. According to a press release, the number of semifinalists is less than one percent of seniors throughout the U.S.

Grand Haven High School Principal Tracy Wilson said anytime there’s a special recognition or acknowledgment, it is a credit to the students, their families and an honor for the entire district.

She said it’s also an affirmation they’re setting students up for success, and it’s fun to see students succeed.

Although the four seniors said they felt confident with their performance on the test, they were still surprised to receive the news.

Burke, 18, said it’s the first national recognition he’s received.

“It’s pretty cool,” he said.

To become finalists, the four local students will now complete an application, which includes information about their academic record, activities, honors, and awards they’ve received. They must also complete an essay and provide a letter of recommendation.

Of the almost 16,000 students named as semifinalists, about 15,000 students are expected to advance to the finalist level.

Next spring, three types of National Merit Scholarships will be offered — 2,500 National Merit Scholarships worth $2,500; college-sponsored scholarships offered by 190 universities and colleges; and about 230 businesses and corporations will provide about 1,000 corporate-sponsored Merit Scholarships.

In addition to filling out the necessary paperwork, the four seniors are also busy in their studies and extra-curricular activities.

Burke, a member of the competitive ski team and baseball team, is in the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme.

Currently, Burke is taking IB courses such as biology, chemistry, math, English and Spanish. Burke thanked his friends, family, teachers and everyone in the IB program for their support.

Richardson, 17, and Merriman, 17, have been in Science Olympiad in sixth grade.

Richardson, a member of the ultimate Frisbee club, is dual enrolled in GHHS and classes at Grand Valley State University.

Merriman is first chair viola in the GHHS Chamber Orchestra and part of GOTAK. He’s also on the sailing club and swing club.

Richardson and Merriman are both members of the National Honor Society.

Over the years, Peterson, 18, has helped run the elementary school chess club, a member of the cross country team, track team.

Peterson takes AP courses such as U.S. history and is dual enrolled at Muskegon Community College.

After high school, the four local semifinalists plan to continue their education.

Burke plans to study either pre-med or environmental science at the University of Michigan or the University of Notre Dame.

Merriman plans to apply to Columbia, the University of Michigan and Johns Hopkins, and he’s interested in pursuing a career in epidemiology.

Peterson is weighing his options as to where he plans to receive a post-secondary education, and he plans to major in natural science.

Richardson plans to study at either the University of Michigan or Purdue University, where he will study meteorology or atmospheric science.

With students preparing to take the PSAT, SAT and ACT, the recent semifinalists offered advice for students who want to do well.

Merriman encouraged students to understand the testing format so they can be familiar with the ways questions are asked and know how to pace themselves during the test.

“Practice tests are helpful,” he said.

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