Ten seniors named National Merit Semifinalists

Amanda Young

By Amanda Young ’11, Co-Edior-in-Chief

Ten members of the Class of 2011 have been named National Merit Semifinalists. The Semifinalists make up 18.9 percent of this year’s seniors, the highest percentage of Semifinalists in any senior class in Cincinnati.

The Semifinalists are: Ali Breneman, Jules Cantor, Lilly Fleischmann, Ilana Habib, Jordan Komnick, Alexandra McInturf, Kevin McSwiggen, Cody Pomeranz, Baldur Tangvald,  and Amanda Young.

“I am continually amazed by the commitment our students have to their academic work and their preparation for college,” said Upper School Head Stephanie Luebbers. “It makes me very happy to see those efforts recognized by the National Merit program and other outside organizations.”

The students were selected to be Semifinalists by achieving high scores on the Preliminary SAT/ National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT). The ten CCDS seniors scored in the top 1 percent of test takers are among about 16,000 students named Semifinalists nationwide. They were chosen from the approximately 1.5 million students who took the PSAT last fall.

“We have a number of Semifinalists similar to Seven Hills, St. Xavier, and Indian Hill but we have the smallest class of any of those schools,” Director of College Counseling Sarah Beyreis said.

This year, Seven Hills and Indian Hill have 11 Semifinalists, and St. Xavier has 13. Walnut Hills and Sycamore topped the Cincinnati area in number of Semifinalists with 17, but had lower percentages of Semifinalists than CCDS. The Walnut Hills Semifinalists represent 6.9 percent of the 245 seniors who took the PSAT last year and the Sycamore Semifinalists represent 3.7 percent of the 450 eligible seniors who took the test.

Of the semifinalists nationwide, 15,000 will be named National Merit Finalists in February. In the spring, around 8,200 of the 15,000 Finalists will be notified that they have been selected to receive a college scholarship from businesses, sponsor colleges, or for the top of the pool, National Merit itself.

“We often have a lot of scholarship winners,” Mrs. Beyreis said.

The National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) will announce later this month Commended students, the next best approximately 34,000 high-scorers. The NMSC will also select National Achievement Semifinalists and Commended students later this fall. The National Achievement Scholarship Program recognizes African American students who excelled on the PSAT.

Mrs. Beyreis projects that 36 percent of the CCDS senior class will be recognized by National Merit once Commended and National Achievement students are announced.

“There are few schools in the country who can boast about such a high per capita recognition by the National Merit program,” Mrs. Luebbers said.

This is the highest percentage recognized by National Merit in recent years. 24 percent of the Class of 2010 was recognized by National Merit.

“Despite that fact that 36 percent of our senior class will be recognized by the program, no one should think for a second that this accomplishment is ordinary;  it is a significant and worthy achievement,” Mrs. Luebbers said.

Photo courtesy of CCDS