Collier Smith advances as National Merit Finalist

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Elder High School has a National Merit Finalist! Collier Smith, a top ranked senior and a student in the AP/Honors Program has been named a National Merit Finalist in the National Merit Scholarship Program.

Of the over 1.6 million academically eligible entrants in the United States, Collier is one of some 15,000 entrants in the country who have advanced as finalists. These finalists demonstrate distinguished performances in high school and high potential for future academic accomplishment.

The National Merit Scholarship Program is an academic competition for recognition and scholarships that began in 1955. High school students can enter the National Merit Program by taking the Pre-SAT, which you take in your sophomore or junior year. This shows your readiness for your further academic endeavors and sees what you have learned in high school.

This test also called the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test, serves as an initial screen of approximately 1.6 million high school entrants a year. If you score exceptionally well on the test you can be named for this achievement.

I asked Collier Smith how he felt about becoming a National Merit Finalist and what you have to get on the PSAT to be accepted.

“It feels great to be a Finalist. I’m proud of myself and grateful for my talents. The National Merit Corporation does a good job of recognizing students who excel, and I’m happy to have what it takes to be one of them. I’m glad to see my hard work paid off.”

“If you score in the top 1% or so on the PSAT, you can be named a semifinalist. Once you’re a semifinalist, you can fill out an application to become a Finalist. It’s not that hard to become a finalist once you’re a semifinalist.”

I’ve seen this hard work from Collier personally. I remember being in a religion class with him, Old Testament maybe, and whenever we took a test or quiz I would turn around to see his. It would be a guaranteed 98 or above, opposed to my high B or low 90, if I was lucky.

I know Collier Smith has gotten recognized at Elder. There was an announcement by Mr. Ruffing regarding his achievement and even a recognition of him in the main hallway. But, I asked him what this means for college, did he get any more big scholarships for this?

“Some schools give out extra scholarships to finalists. It’s a widely recognized program, so they know it’s legitimate and a notable accomplishment. Ohio State (where Collier wants to go to school next year) doesn’t do much for finalists, though, probably because it’s such a big school.

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“It feels great to be a Finalist. I’m proud of myself, and grateful for my talents. The National Merit Corporation does a good job of recognizing students who excel, and I’m happy to have what it takes to be one of them. I’m glad to see my hard work paid off. ”

— Collier Smith '17

Collier added that “I’ve gotten a lot of support from friends, family, and teachers. It’s nice to know they are interested in me and support me, but I’m sometimes not that big a fan of all the attention.”

I also talked to Mr. Sovern, who had things to say about Collier.

“Collier is a quality young man, he always tries to get the most out of his opportunities.  Because he enjoys gaining knowledge, he takes charge of his learning.  Collier truly realizes that education is worth the effort, it is worth improving. When you talk with Collier, you notice he is a deep thinker.    He has an opportunity to make society a better place, because I believe he has the ability to use his knowledge to benefit others in some way.”

So I want to personally say congratulations to Collier Smith for receiving this excellent achievement.

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