By Margot Russell
Two students from Maple Grove High School - Kendall Wright and Christina Walter - have been named semifinalists in the 2014 National Merit Scholarship Program. Walter is also being honored for receiving a perfect score of 2400 on her Student Achievement Test.
Photo by Margot Russell
Christina Walker and Kendall Wright are National Merit Semifinalists.
The two Maple Grove seniors have earned an opportunity to continue in the competition for 8,000 National Merit Scholarships, worth about $35 million. Wright and Walker join 83 high school senior semifinalists from 15 high schools in Western New York, but are the only semifinalists in Chautauqua County.
To be considered for the awards, semifinalists must fulfill several requirements to advance to the finalist level of the competition. Semifinalists must submit a detailed scholarship application in which they provide information about their academic record, participation in school and community activities, demonstrated leadership abilities, and honors and awards received.
Both Walter and Wright have had an outstanding academic record throughout high school, according to Maple Grove Principal Julie Verdonik.
Wright, who is also a Shotokan karate student and especially enjoys her classes in college English, molecular biology and French this year, says she's been studying hard throughout high school, and plans to enroll at a liberal arts college next fall to "see what appeals most" when choosing a career path. She's visited a dozen colleges, but says she was most enthusiastic about Vassar, Cornell and Hamilton College.
"Kendall has always worked hard," said Verdonik. "This honor didn't come by chance, but because she has earned it. She was often seen studying during lunch time."
Walter, who claims three state titles in track and also plays on the tennis team in the fall, isn't sure which college she'd like to attend, but says she's visited several and is planning on studying either math or science next fall.
Walter scored a perfect 2400 on her SATs last spring and had one word to sum up her feelings about it: "Relieved - because I don't have to study for it anymore." According to College Board, the average SAT score in New York state in 2012 was 1498.
She credits SAT practice tests and studying vocabulary words as the tools that helped the most when preparing for the test.
Three types of National Merit Scholarships will be offered in the spring of 2014. Every finalist competes for one of 2,500 National Merit $2500 scholarships that will be awarded on a state representational basis.
About 1.5 million juniors in more than 22,000 high schools entered the 2014 National Merit Scholarship Program by taking the 2012 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test, which served as an initial screen of program entrants. The nationwide pool of semifinalists, representing less than 1 percent of U.S. high school seniors, includes the highest scoring entrants in each state.