RAHS National Merit Finalists announced


Roseville High School’s National Merit Scholar Finalists. Back row from left: Zachary Calkins, Logan Daniels, William Thomas. Front row from left: Jingyang Dong and Katherine Allen. Not pictured: Sammy Shaker and Benjamin Rhee. (submitted photo)

All seven of Roseville Area High School’s (RAHS) National Merit Scholarship semifinalists have been named finalists in the national academic competition.

Those students are: Katherine Allen, Zachary Calkins, Logan Daniels, Jingyang Dong, Benjamin Rhee, Sammy Shaker and William Thomas.

They have joined an elite group of finalists from around the country that make up less than one percent of the nation’s graduating high school seniors.

“We are so proud to have these seven outstanding students represent Roseville Area High School as National Merit Finalists,” RAHS Principal Jenny Loeck said.

Qualifying for Merit Scholarships and honors

High school students enter the National Merit Program by taking the Preliminary SAT (PSAT)/ National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test during their Junior Year. Of the 1.5 million entrants, 16,000 students with the highest test scores are eventually chosen as semifinalists is late September.

From that group of semifinalists, 15,000 are chosen as finalists and are then notified by mail in February, according to the National Merit Scholarship Corporation.

To be chosen as a finalist a student must maintain excellent grades throughout their high school career; receive a letter of recommendation from their school’s principal; submit a scholarship application detailing the student’s involvement in extracurricular, leadership or volunteer activities, as well as any honors or awards received; write a self-descriptive, open-ended essay on a topic of their choosing and earn official SAT scores that confirm the students performance on the PSAT qualifying test.  

Starting in mid-March, 8,300 finalists are selected to receive scholarships worth more than $34 million, based on the previously mentioned criteria.

Academic success at RAHS

Having seven students named semifinalists in the National Merit Scholarship competition would be an honor for any one school, let alone seven finalists.

In September, 321 Minnesota students were named National Merit Semifinalists from 104 different schools. Fewer have advanced as finalists, although the exact number is unknown, because the National Merit Scholarship Organization has not released those figures.

Roseville Area School Officials list several factors that have contributed to the academic success of many of Roseville’s students.

“The academic recognition our students enjoy is a direct result of the strong working partnership between the students, their families, our dedicated staff and the support of the larger community,” Roseville Area Schools Superintendent John Thein said. “District 623 is very proud of our students’ academic success and salute their exceptional scholastic achievement.”

Principal Loeck shared the superintendent’s sentiment, noting that it is a collaborative effort that has led to a high level of academic achievement by students at the high school.  

“This is a tremendous accomplishment and the credit should be shared with all school community stakeholders,” she said.

Loeck said these stakeholders include supportive families, a community and school board that support advanced placement classes that challenge students to become creative learners, dedicated teachers and support staff, and students who push one another to do better in school. 

Additionally, Loeck credits the ethnic and cultural diversity of Roseville’s student body as being advantageous to learning.

“I believe the diversity of our school population places our students at an advantage when preparing for a global society both in college and in the workplace,” the principal said.

Joshua Nielsen can be reached at jnielsen@lillienews.com or at 651-748-7824.


National Merit finalist aces ACT, SAT

Jingyang Dong is one of seven students representing Roseville that have advanced as National Merit Scholarship Finalists.  
She also belongs to an even more elite group of students who have perfect SAT and ACT test scores.
The exact number of students who have accomplished this feat this year is unknown, but suffice it to say it’s very few.
According to the College Board, which administers the SAT, only 360 test takers out of 1.66 million received the top score in 2012, or about two-hundredths of one percent. The percentage of test takers who aced the ACT exam was not much higher, slightly more than four-hundredths of one percent.
“I took a few practice tests to prepare for timing, but otherwise nothing special for preparation,” Jingyang says.
She is very modest about this remarkable achievement and says she is more proud of being one of Roseville High School’s National Merit finalists.
“They are a prestigious group of students. It’s a huge honor to be among them,” she says.
 
Interests and influences
Jingyang plays the violin and piano and is the Concert Master of the school’s Symphony Orchestra. She is the captain of the Quiz Bowl Team, a Math Team member and is involved in the National Honor Society.
She also tutored at the Roseville Public Library last year, where she helped students and adults with math problems.
Jingyang said that her teachers, mother and grandparents have all been instrumental in helping her to excel as a student.
“I have learned so much in all of my AP (Advanced Placement) classes, it’s incredible,” she says.
Her grandparents live in Beijing, where Jingyang lived until she was five-years-old. They were both engineering professors in China and her mother is a software engineer at 3M in Maplewood.
“My mother and grandparents have been really inspirational to me,” she says. “They are very curious and have always conducted research, even if it was not related to their work. They have always encouraged me to read and learn about different subjects and pursue different sciences.  
“I just really like learning. It can be a rush when you learn about something new,” Jingyang says. “I’ve recently become really interested in medicine -- how diseases work and how the human body works.”
Jingyang says she has not decided on a major in college yet, but says she wants to conduct research of some kind while enrolled as a student and in her professional career.
“I want to pursue a doctoral degree in medicine or chemical engineering,” she says.
Jingyang has applied to the Universities of Minnesota and Illinois, as well as Northwestern and Princeton. She has not decided on a college yet, but says her decision will be based, at least partially, on the amount of financial aid offered by each school.

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