Five Seniors Achieve National Distinction


Jadyn Forman

  Five seniors have moved forward in the National Merit Scholarship Competition to be semi-finalists. They are five in 16,000 students across the country who earned exemplary, high scores on the Junior PSAT to warrant this accomplishment. The National Merit Scholarship semi-finalists from Tampa Prep are Timothy Calco, Grace Harris, Andrew Kim, Ava Vellines, and Connor White

  The list of semi-finalists in Florida was published Sept. 9. However; many of the semi-finalists didn’t find out that they won first hand and were told by other people who had heard the news.

   “I actually heard about it very randomly,” Calco said. “My English teacher brought it up. He was like ‘Hey, I heard about your National Merit, that’s really good’ and I was like “You heard about what?”

   The National Merit Scholarship is given to students based on their scores on the PSAT exam, an essay, their grades, and a teacher recommendation. To just receive a spot as a semi-finalist, students must have received one of the top less than one percent of PSAT scores.

   “Honestly, it’s something I knew very little about until actually being thrown into it,” said Ava Vellines. 

  15,000 of the semi-finalists will move up to finalist status in Feb. 2021 and later, around March, 7,600 winners of the scholarship will be notified of their win. To move up to be a finalist, one of the requirements is to write an essay.

  “I have 7 [essay] outlines,” Calco said, “I’m just trying to narrow it down to what’s the best one because I obviously want to take it seriously.”

  Students are excited about the opportunities the idea of winning the scholarship opens up to them when applying to colleges. Along with the monetary gain of around $2,500, it gives students more of an edge when applying to colleges because of how prestigious the scholarship is. Such as schools offering even more money or full ride scholarships to the winners.

   “It gives me a little more control in the application process,” Vellines said, “I feel like I have more power.”

  Tampa Prep’s students and faculty are very proud of their students’ accomplishments.

“It’s really nice when our kids do well in anything. It makes us happy as faculty members, that’s for sure,” Carl Carlson, the head of upper school,  said.