Twenty-six Wichita-area students were named semifinalists Wednesday in the National Merit Scholarship competition.
Ten of the semifinalists attend East High School in Wichita.
Students become National Merit semifinalists by taking the Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test during their junior year and scoring in the top one-half of 1 percent in the state.
Nationwide, about 16,000 students were named semifinalists. About 15,000 are expected to achieve finalist status based on other requirements, such as academic skills, extracurricular accomplishments and an essay.
Finalists will compete next spring for 2,500 National Merit Scholarships of $2,500. Scholarship winners will be announced in the spring.
Mingee Kim, a semifinalist from East High, said she studied regularly for the SAT, including quizzing herself on vocabulary words from an enormous pile of more than 500 note cards.
“It was a bit difficult. I would wake up in the morning and maybe get 10 questions of math in, and then I’d have to go to school,” said Kim, a student in East High’s International Baccalaureate program. “Or late at night, taking some practice tests.”
“I was surprised when my score came back, but at the same time I was like, ‘Yes, I’ve worked really hard for this,’” she said. “And I was just extremely grateful.”
East High staff members celebrated their group of semifinalists by surprising each student with balloons and other treats during class Wednesday morning.
Joshua Lawton, whose older brother was a National Merit semifinalist in 2013, offered his best advice to younger students: Manage your time well.
“Sometimes you need to throw aside that phone – turn it off,” said Lawton, who plans to study biological engineering in college and pursue a career in medical research or teaching.
“Turn off the TV, the Facebook, and just buckle down,” he said. “Do your work first and then relax after you’re done.”
National Merit semifinalists from the Wichita area:
▪ Andover Central High – Nicholas Detter
▪ Bishop Carroll – Jeffrey Birch, Nathaniel Lies
▪ Derby High – Zachary Reece, Ryan Werdel
▪ Independent School – Eric Blonigen, Maxwell McIntire
▪ Kapaun Mount Carmel – Jacob Hutchins, John Malone, Thomas Mondry, Nicholas Onofrio
▪ Maize South High – Jessica Tung
▪ Trinity Academy – Ethan Adams
▪ Wichita Collegiate – Kevin Edwards, Ellen Mines, Jack Squires
▪ Wichita East – Christian Acker, Nirvi Ajmera, Irfan Ansari, Travis Casey, Colin Hutton, Mingee Kim, Emma Kuttler, Joshua Lawton, Olivia Tipton, Ryan Zhuang