Four seniors wait to hear on National Merit finalist status in ‘banner year’ for school


Emma Lazarczyk

One of the four semi-finalists, Senior Aidan Oplepias works on an assignment in AP Gov. Olpepias scored a perfect score on his ACT. “I feel grateful that I am a National Merit Semifinalist because my hard work over the past few years has paid off,” Oplepias said. “and I am thankful that my teachers were able to help me along the way.”

Emma Lazarczyk, Staff Writer

Four Miege seniors are anticipating February’s National Merit announcement. 

Seniors Hayden Clements, Erin Garr, Charlie Hill and Aidan Oblepias received news in September that they were National Merit semifinalists and will find out Feb. 1 if they have advanced to finalists. 

“This is a banner year for the amount of students that we have as National Merit Scholars,” Principal Maureen Engen said. 

The National Merit Scholar Program, which is open to all U.S. high schools, recognizes students who show excellent performance on the qualifying test. The four Miege students had to place in the top one percent of the 1.5 million students who participated this year. 

With eight classes, extracurriculars, jobs and other school/social commitments, staying organized can be a struggle for many students, but it is critical to do well in school, according to one semifinalist Charlie Hill.

 “I think planning ahead really helps, so I can think about what I have to do: so if I have a test this day I know I need to study these days beforehand,”  Hill said. “Part of it is knowing my own limits, like knowing there are only so many extracurriculars I can do. It’s knowing when I have to say I have to step back from this activity.” 

 Semifinalist Aidan Oblepias said being involved in high school is another major aspect that sets students up for success. 

“Making sure that you are keeping your GPA up and that your involvements are still current is a big one,” Oblepias said. “You can leave all the application stuff to senior year, but as long as you make sure you are keeping the same commitments that you have and excelling in those activities that you are involved in is the most important thing.”

Students’ performance in high school can impact students’ futures, but semifinalist Erin Garr said it is important to not worry too much about school and have a healthy relationship with school.

“I would say to try to take things one day at a time and try not to stress too much,” Garr said. “Also, remember that if you get a bad grade or don’t do well on a test, it is okay and use it as an opportunity to learn.”

According to guidance counselor Elaine Schmidtberger, the guidance department is different from other schools because counselors see each student annually, which has provided the semifinalists with a mentor throughout their four years as they apply to schools and scholarships.  

“These students have taken advantage of every opportunity,” Schmidtberger said.

This accomplishment reflects the students’ motivation to succeed, according to Engen.

“Even though we provide AP and honors classes, I think to become a National Merit Scholar, you just have to set your goal that you will give everything you can to your classes, and it starts there,” Engen said.