Record Number of Gatton Academy Seniors Named National Merit Semifinalists
- Zack Ryle
- Thursday, September 12th, 2019
Twenty-three seniors from The Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science in Kentucky have been recognized as semifinalists in the 2020 National Merit Scholarship Competition, marking the most students recognized in a single school year in the program’s history.
Since The Gatton Academy’s inception in 2007, a total of 161 students have been named National Merit Semifinalists. 91 current Gatton Academy seniors took the PSAT, meaning 25.27 percent of students acheived the National Merit Semifinalist level.
The 2019-2020 National Merit Semifinalists from The Gatton Academy are:
- Caitlin Cook (Greenwood High School) of Bowling Green
- William Dolan (J. Graham Brown School) of Louisville
- Gavin Dooley (Edmonson County High School) of Smiths Grove
- Edwin “EJ” Fields (Hazard High School) of Hazard
- Bailey Knight (Paul L. Dunbar High School) of Lexington
- Lorenzo Mahoney (Kentucky Country Day School) of Prospect
- Owen Mefford (Greenwood High School) of Bowling Green
- Logan Mingus (Atherton High School) of Louisville
- Jerry “J.B.” Morse II (Hopkinsville High School) of Hopkinsville
- Maunil Mullick (Bowling Green High School) of Bowling Green
- Lukas Negron (Western Hills High School) of Frankfort
- Patrick O’Boyle (John Hardin High School) of Elizabethtown
- Sarah Pedersen (Corbin High School) of Barbourville
- Laurel Philpott (Nelson County High School) of Bardstown
- Meghan Pierce (Warren East High School) of Smiths Grove
- Jason Qiu (McCracken County High School) of Paducah
- Christopher Nathaniel Smith (North Hardin Christian School) of Radcliff
- Lydia Speer (Bowling Green High School) of Bowling Green
- David Suarez (Southwestern High School) of Somerset
- Hannah Suter (Martha Layne Collins High School) of Shelbyville
- Elisha VanZant (Henry Clay High School) of Lexington
- Sarah Vickers (George Rogers Clark High School) of Winchester
- Rocco Wrentmore (Paul L. Dunbar High School) of Lexington
More than 1.5 million juniors entered the 2020 National Merit Scholarship Program by taking the 2018 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
“What is most remarkable is that these students excel in areas across the board beyond academics. They are great people and contributing community members. I am proud of the people they are and the citizens they are becoming,” stated Dr. Lynette Breedlove, Director of The Gatton Academy. “ “Kentucky is a state full of exceptional students. These students’ school districts have worked hard to provide them with a solid foundation launching them towards excellence.”
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.
From the approximately 16,000 semifinalists, about 15,000 are expected to advance to the Finalist level. To become a Finalist, a Semifinalist and their school must submit a detailed scholarship application, which provides information about the Semifinalist’s academic record, participation in school and community activities, demonstrated leadership abilities, employment, and honors and awards received. A Semifinalist 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® or ACT ® scores that confirm the student’s earlier performance on the qualifying test.
Finalists will be announced in February, and all National Merit Scholarship winners for 2020 will be announced in four nationwide releases beginning in April and concluding in July.
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 two-year program for gifted and talented junior and seniors. The Gatton Academy’s students 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 Jay Mathews’ list of top-performing schools with elite students, marking the tenth consecutive appearance.