San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

September 25th, 2009
SMHS scholars recognized

National Merit Scholar semifinalists (from Left) Connor Wilson, Irene Morse, Henry Finch.


The San Marcos CISD trustees recognized three National Merit semifinalists, two National Hispanic Scholars, and 14 senior Advanced Placement Scholars this week.

The students represent high SAT (Scholastic Aptitude/Assessment Test) and AP test scores.

The National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) recently announced the names of 16,000 semifinalists from across the nation who are to be considered for 8,200 NSMC scholarship awards.

Three San Marcos High School students who made the semifinalist list — Henry Finch, Irene Morse and Connor Wilson — qualified by taking the 2008 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. The nationwide pool of semifinalists represents less than one percent of U.S. high school seniors, and includes the highest scoring entrants in each state.

In order to advance to the finalist level of the competition, a semifinalist must have an outstanding academic record throughout high school, be endorsed and recommended by the high school principal, and earn SAT scores that confirm the student’s earlier performance on the qualifying test. The semifinalist and a high school official must submit a detailed scholarship application, which includes the student’s essay and information about the semifinalist’s participation and leadership in school and community activities.

Approximately half of the finalists will win a National Merit Scholarship, earning the Merit Scholar title. National Merit Scholarship winners of 2010 will be announced in four nationwide news releases beginning in April and concluding in July.

San Marcos High School also announced that two students were selected by the College Board as 2009-2010 National Hispanic Recognition Program (NHRP) Scholars. The NHRP identifies outstanding Hispanic/Latino high school students. The students, Mariel Swinney and Andres Urrutia were selected from a pool of more than 200,000 students who took the SAT and identified themselves as Hispanic. The list of recognized students is distributed to subscribing post secondary learning institutions in October.

Finally, the third source of these scholarly titles is the Advanced Placement (AP) Awards which are won by earning a grade of 3 on three or more AP Tests.  Twenty SMHS students qualified for the AP Scholar title: Shelby Bandy, Gregory Byrne, Kaitlin Davis, Gregory de la Iglesia, Lauren Engeling,  Sean Fink, Kaarin Gerber, Madison Gribbon, Pamela House, Marcos Manrique, Julie Munoz, Marianela Ovido-Moreno, Samantha Reynolds, Kristine Staggs, Mariel Swinney, Andres Urrutia, Cameron Valenta, Christine Villarreal, Benjamin Warms, and Sarah Williams. Of these, 14 are current SMHS seniors.

Four students qualified for the title, AP Scholar with Honor, by scoring an average of 3.25 on all AP exams taken and grades of 3 or higher on 4 of the exams. The AP Honor Scholars are: Kathryn Dix, Weston Hearne, Kelley Mathis, and Aaron Snyder. Two are SMHS seniors this year.

Nine students qualified for the title, AP Scholar with Distinction, by averaging 3.5 on all AP exams and receiving a grade of 3 or higher on five or more of the exams. The AP Scholars of Distinction are James Dennis, Henry Finch, Paul Hill, Thomas Huston, Thomas Moore, Brooke Morgan, Irene Morse, Jessamyn Plotts, and Connor Wilson. Four students are SMHS seniors.

According to SMCISD Advanced Academics Coordinator Cecily Moore, the school district funds PLAN (practice ACT testing) for all 10th graders and ACT for all 11th graders. The PSAT costs $15 and fee waivers are available for students who meet fee waiver guidelines. The upcoming testing schedule is currently Oct. 14  for the PSAT (Preliminary SAT) and Oct. 29 for PLAN. The ACT for 11th graders will be given on April 10 of 2010.

NHSP Scholars Andres Urrutia, left, and Mariel Swinney, right.

Twenty San Marcos High School students are AP Scholars. Front row, left to right: Madison Gribbon, Mariel Swinney, Irene Morse, Kelley Mathis, Kristine Staggs, Julie Munoz, Lauren Engeling. Back row, left to right: Connor Wilson, Thomas Moore, Weston Hearne, Greg Byrne, Henry Finch, Cameron Valenta, Andres Urrutia.

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