Oak Park-River Forest students named Merit, Achievement semifinalists
Seventeen Oak Park-River Forest High School students were named National Merit Scholarship semifinalists this year. Eight students were named National Achievement Scholarship semifinalists. | Photo courtesy Karin Sullivan
Updated: October 21, 2012 1:53PM
Seventeen Oak Park-River Forest High School students were named National Merit Scholarship semifinalists this year.
And eight students were named National Achievement Scholarship semifinalists.
“Having so many semifinalists is a testament to the academic prowess of our students, to the support that they have at home from their families, and to the ability of our faculty to help students strive for amazing levels of achievement,” Principal Nate Rouse said.
The National Merit semifinalists this year are: Eigen Aoki, Louis Blankemeier, Ricardo Castaneda, Jack Cramer, Scott Daniel, John Davis, Will Drickey, Emilia Floody, Benjamin Levin, John Martin, Rucha Mehendale, Elliot Mertz, Maya Rawal, Lauren Richardson, Leah Sacks, Cody Stocker, and Ruth Whittaker.
The National Achievement semifinalists are: Camara Brown, Courtney Fields, Anna Forte, Marshall Jeffries, Taylor Rayburn, Lauren Richardson, Natalie Richardson and Jahi Taylor.
To qualify for National Merit, students took the 2011 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. Of the 1.5 million entrants, 16,000 were chosen as semifinalists.
“If feels great to be a semifinalist,” senior Benjamin Levin said.
Levin has been involved in OPRF’s Model UN and mock trials. He plans to study engineering or law in college.
“It’s a nice confirmation that I’m doing well in school,” he said.
Of 168 Illinois schools with students participating in the 2012-2013 program, OPRF had the seventh highest number of National Merit semifinalists, according to the National Merit Scholarship Corporation.
Finalists will be selected in February. About 8,300 finalists will receive a merit scholarship award in March.
The National Achievement Scholarship Program was established in 1964 to recognize outstanding African American high school students. Of the 160,000 entrants in that category, 1,600 were named semifinalists. They will have an opportunity to compete for National Achievement Scholarships.
Senior Taylor Rayburn was honored to be a semifinalist.
“I’m really proud that all of my hard work in school has paid off,” Rayburn said.
Rayburn has participated in cross-country and track all four years, and is a member of student council and the Tau Gamma service club. She is also a freshman mentor.
“Although I am not 100 percent sure yet where I want to attend college or what I want to major in, I definitely want to build on my experiences and hope to do something that involves helping people in different parts of the world or raising awareness about social justice issues,” she said.
Finalists will be notified in January. In February, about 800 finalists will receive a national achievement scholarship.
OPRF had 21 Merit semifinalists and one Achievement semifinalist last year, District 200 Communications and Community Relations Director Karin Sullivan said. In 2010-2011, 15 students were Merit semifinalists and 3 were Achievement semifinalists.~.