Seven City High Students Named National Merit Semi-Finalists



Seven City High students have been named National Merit semi-finalists for 2020.

Shoshie Hemley, News Editor

Seven City High seniors have qualified as National Merit Semi-Finalists. Seniors Ananya Albrecht-Buehler, Ilario Balestrieri-Fox, Keith Friestad, Laura Friestad, Ben Otoadese, Nolan Vibhakar, and Rocco Zollo found out on September 8 that they were among the 16,000 students across the nation who qualified for the 65th Annual National Merit Scholarship Program. 

“I’m very happy and excited. I had to wait the entire year to find out, and then finally I found out. [There was] a lot of joy in that moment,” Vibhakar said. “We’ll see what comes next, but I’m not too worried about whether I stay a semifinalist or a finalist. I feel like this is enough, at least.”

In order to qualify, students must take the PSAT the fall of their junior year.

“There wasn’t too much preparation specifically for the PSAT. I had taken it the year before too. I had done a little bit of preparation with the SAT and ACT and that kind of transferred into the PSAT,” Otoadese said. 

Vibahkar believes it’s his education that helped prepare him for the PSAT.

“I didn’t do a ton of preparation for it, but I’ve been preparing for it kind of my entire life and school career just by learning things. It’s more thanks for the fantastic education that I’ve been getting that I think that I was able to do so well,” Vibahkar said.

Albrecht-Buehler is glad to be able to acknowledge she is a semi-finalist on her college applications. 

“I think it’s definitely going to help boost my application. Because only around 1% of PSAT test-takers have gotten it. I think definitely I’m still gonna have to work towards it because [16,000] other students are able to put a semifinalist on that application as well,” Albrecht-Buehler said. 

The PSAT has also helped some prepare for the real SAT and ACT. Vibahkar took both exams over the summer. 

“I think [the PSAT was] a very good example, especially being able to take it twice in 10th grade and 11th grade,” Vibahkar said. “[The SAT] was very similar to the PSAT, obviously a little bit more challenging, but the structure similar, so I felt familiar with it and more prepared than I would have been if I hadn’t taken the PSAT.”

The next step for the semi-finalists is to submit an essay and a teacher recommendation in order to qualify to be a finalist for the scholarship. Albrecht-Buehler is currently working on her application to be a finalist.

“[The process is] definitely a little rushed this year just because of the pandemic. I think the results came out a little late, so I’ve had to do everything last minute, the applications are due in less than a month,” Albrecht-Buehler said.

For any future PSAT test-takers, Otoadese believes staying calm is beneficial.

“Slow down and pace yourself. It is important to really relax on these tests. I’ve noticed that because I’ve taken tests like this a few times. Once you get over the nerves and all that stuff, you realize how much better you feel about the test,” Otoadese said.