Senior advances as National Merit semifinalist

Faith Peebles, Editor-in-chief

For the first time in years, GHS has its very own National Merit Scholar Semi-Finalist.

Out of the 1.4 million juniors who took the PSAT last year, senior Carter Reynolds made it to the top 16,000 and is now in the running for receiving a scholarship.

“When I found out, I was really excited because it’s such a big thing and I was surprised because I didn’t think my score was that good,” Reynolds said. 

These 16,000 people have to take more steps on this road to potential scholarship money than just one test.

“Once you become a semifinalist, what happens is he has to fill out a scholarship application. He does a portion and the school does a portion, and that goes to the National Merit Scholarship Corporation Committee. They then evaluate all of those applications and then they create a list of finalists. Those finalists then are available for scholarships. They gave more than 30 million dollars last year. That money is then divided between those finalists,” College and Career Director Mrs. Lisa Laug said. 

The semifinalists are divided proportionally by state, and in the end 7,600 students will be chosen as finalists. 

“There were 16,000 semi-finalists. About 1.4 million juniors took it, he was in the top 16,000 as appropriate by state. I say that because they don’t exactly take the top 16,000. Say that out of the 16,000, 8,000 of them are in California. They don’t do that. They kind of divide it by state. Your state proportionally gets this many semi-finalists. Still, it’s an amazing thing. There’s roughly 7,600 finalists who will be chosen to receive this scholarship.

Reynolds will not know if he is a finalist until February 2021. If he is, the National Merit Scholarship Committee will mail a Certificate of Merit to GHS, in addition to notifying his family.

“At home, I don’t see Carter at all preparing for tests like this. I see him going to college and doing well, and then being successful in the future. I was not surprised that he’s a semi-finalist because he tries hard, and I think he’s got a good shot,” sophomore Blake Reynolds said about his brother. 

The one-time $2500 scholarship is not the limit of opportunities Finalists receive. It looks great on college applications, and depending on what college they go to, they could be eligible to receive even more money. For GHS, it has been a few years since a semi-finalist has emerged.

“It just kind of depends on the year. We’ve had years where we’ve had two, we’ve had years where we’ve had none. It’s probably been three years since we’ve had a semi-finalist. It’s such an exciting thing and such an exciting opportunity for a student when we have one,” Laug said.