Mercer Island Reporter


Eleven Islanders are 2014 National Merit semifinalists

Mercer Island Reporter Staff
September 17, 2013 · 9:22 AM

The eleven Mercer Island High School students who have been named 2014 National Merit semifinalists are, from left, back row: Isaac Diamond, Ken Ho, Mark Anderson, Eric Schulz and Nathan Cummings. Front, from left: Ryan Newell, Mary Wingerson, Devina Kumar, Sumedhaa-Priya Kothari, Katherine Bell and Rachel Van Gelder. / Randy Bolerjack/Contributed Photo

The Mercer Island School District and National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) have announced the selection of 11 Mercer Island High School students as National Merit Scholarship semifinalists.

The 2014 National Merit Scholarship semifinalists from MISD are:

Mark Anderson, Katherine Bell, Nathan Cummings, Isaac Diamond, Ken Ho, Sumedhaa-Priya Kothari, Devina Kumar     Ryan Newell, Eric Schulz, Rachel Van Gelder and Mary Wingerson.

“I am so proud of each and every one of these students for their academic accomplishments. They are among the best of the best students academically at Mercer Island High School,” said Mercer Island High School Principal Vicki Puckett. “It is so amazing when you hear of the accomplishments of these students. Go Islanders!”

While most of the students haven’t decided where they will attend college next fall, several have some ideas. “I am looking into several engineering schools,” said Ken Ho. He is hoping to become a civil engineer. Sumedhaa-Priya Kothari says, “My dream school would be Columbia University in New York.” She hopes to become “a traveling journalist, documenting hardships in Syria and the Middle East.”

While 17-year-old Eric Schulz doesn’t know what his dream job is yet, he does know that he wants “to make a clear impact on someone or a group of people.” Katie Bell says, “My dream job involves some kind of research, possibly in biology or computer science.”

Several students credit the district’s use of technology in the classroom for helping to prepare them for college and a cognitive, digital and global world. “The technological opportunities my education has afforded me have expanded my worldview and helped me pursue many of my biggest interests, such as literature,” said Nathan Cummings. Kothari added, “The integration of technology in our classes as well as the wide breadth of electives and clubs offered, such as microeconomics and mock trial, have prepared me for the global, digital economy.”

“My teachers through all my years at the high school have challenged me, supported me, and given me everything I needed to succeed,” said Mary Wingerson. “I am extremely grateful to have such selfless and knowledgeable mentors.”

“We’re incredibly proud of these students and what they have achieved,” said MISD Superintendent Dr. Gary Plano.

Plano will present the students at a joint meeting of the Mercer Island School Board and City Council on Oct. 24.

These 11 semifinalists are among about 16,000 selected nationally from approximately 1.5 million entrants. Semifinalists represent the top one percent of entrants from each state on the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test.

To advance to finalist standing, each semifinalist must submit an application including essays and examples of extracurricular achievements and leadership positions. Finalists, typically about 15,000 students, will compete for scholarships up to $2,500.

NMSC, an independent not-for-profit organization, was established in 1955 to conduct the annual National Merit Scholarship Program.


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