Record Number of Gatton Academy Seniors Named National Merit Finalists
- Author: Zack Ryle
- Author: Tuesday, March 26th, 2019
Photo Credits (Picture at Left):
Top Row (L-R) Annika Avula, Seth Baunach, William Burroughs, Devin Davis, Benjamin Davison, Koushik Devarakonda, Anas Gondal
Middle Row (L-R) Elizabeth Hedrick, Elvin Irihamye, Ivy Irihamye, Shaylon Moore, Victor Paul Portmann, Wyatt Ringo, Robert Sego
Bottom Row (L-R) Aashka Sheth, Graham Stephens, Lily Vowels, Kayla Woodward, Sarah Yaacoub, Daniel Yan, David Yan
Twenty-one seniors from The Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science in Kentucky have been recognized as finalists in the 2019 National Merit Scholarship Competition, marking the most students recognized in one school year in the school’s history.
Since The Gatton Academy’s inception in 2007, 136 students have been named National Merit Finalists. 87 current Gatton Academy seniors took the PSAT, meaning 24.13 percent of students earned National Merit Final level.
The 2018-2019 National Merit Finalists from The Gatton Academy are:
- Annika Avula (Bowling Green High School) of Bowling Green
- Seth Baunach (Spencer County High School) of Taylorsville
- William Burroughs (Monroe County High School) of Tompkinsville
- Devin Davis (Scott County High School) of Georgetown
- Benjamin Davison (Rowan County Senior High School) of Morehead
- Koushik Devarakonda (Larry A. Ryle High School) of Union
- Anas Gondal (Danville High School) of Danville
- Elizabeth Hedrick (duPont Manual High School) of Louisville
- Elvin Irihamye (Paul L. Dunbar High School) of Lexington
- Ivy Irihamye (Paul L. Dunbar High School) of Lexington
- Shaylon Moore (Lawrence County High School) of Louisa
- Victor Paul Portmann (Franklin County High School) of New Liberty
- Wyatt Ringo (Trinity High School) of Louisville
- Robert Sego (Central Hardin High School) of Glendale
- Aashka Sheth (Bowling Green High School) of Bowling Green
- Graham Stephens (Monroe County High School) of Tompkinsville
- Lily Vowels (John Hardin High School) of Elizabethtown
- Kayla Woodward (Hancock County High School) of Hawesville
- Sarah Yaacoub (Lafayette High School) of Lexington
- Daniel Yan (South Warren High School) of Bowling Green
- David Yan (South Warren High School) of Bowling Green
To become a Finalist, a Semifinalist and their school had to submit a detailed scholarship application, which provides information about a student’s academic record, participation in school and community activities, demonstrated leadership abilities, employment, and honors and awards received. A finalist must have an outstanding academic record throughout their high school career, be endorsed and recommended by a high school official, write an essay, and earn SAT® scores that confirm the student’s earlier performance on the qualifying test. From the approximately 16,000 semifinalists, about 15,000 are expected to advance to the Finalist level.
More than 1.6 million juniors entered the 2019 National Merit Scholarship Program by taking the 2017 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT®), which served as the initial screen of program entrants. From this list comes the nationwide pool of Semifinalists, representing less than one percent of U.S. high school seniors, and includes the highest scoring entrants in each state. The number of Semifinalists in a state is proportional to the state’s percentage of the national total of graduating seniors
“The Gatton Academy staff and I offer these students a heartfelt congratulations. We are honored to work with such outstanding students every day,” stated Dr. Lynette Breedlove, Director of The Gatton Academy. “The best part is the students are remarkable in many ways beyond their academic prowess.”
Since students take the qualifying PSAT exam in October of their junior year of high school, much of their preparation stems from learning opportunities during their freshman and sophomore years of high school. The Gatton Academy builds on those experiences to provide students with a robust application and preparation for the SAT, a critical component in becoming a finalist.
For more information about The Gatton Academy, visit www.wku.edu/academy or call (270) 745-6565.
About the National Merit Scholarship Program: Established in 1955, National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) is an independent, not-for-profit organization that operates without government assistance. NMSC conducts the National Merit® Scholarship Program and the National Achievement® Scholarship Program–annual competitions for recognition and college undergraduate scholarships. The honors awarded by NMSC to exceptionally able students are viewed as definitive marks of excellence. Recipients of Merit Scholarship® awards, Achievement Scholarship® awards, and corporate-sponsored Special Scholarships have increased the nation’s respect for intellectual accomplishments and have contributed significantly to its talent pool of future leaders.
About The Gatton Academy: Established in 2007, The Gatton Academy is Kentucky’s first residential 2-year STEM program for gifted and talented junior and seniors. Students at The Gatton Academy’s enroll as juniors and are full-time WKU students pursuing their interests in advanced science, technology, engineering and mathematical careers. The Gatton Academy has been named to The Washington Post’s list of top-performing schools with elite students for nine consecutive years and was named the number one public high school in the United States by The Daily Beast for three consecutive years – 2012, 2013 and 2014.