FHS recognizes 16 National Merit winners

Farragut High School announced its National Merit Winners with a ceremony, during which 16 students were recognized for their achievements.

This year marked the sixth year for the ceremony, which took place in FHS Commons Tuesday, March 28.

“We want to make sure, at Farragut, that we recognize our academic achievers just as much as we do our athletic achievers,” Susan Bolinger, FHS college and career counselor, said. “So, when all athletic departments have their athletic signing days, we want to make sure our academic achievers also get to have their signing day as well.

“We looked for this ceremony to be national awards,” she added. “We have many students who get state and local awards but these awards are recognized all over the United States.”

This year’s students are Jerry Zhou, Nalin Varma, Aidan Thomason, Viktoria Ohstrom, Alex Levi, Sam Landon, Abe Joo, Jackson Johnson, Omar Iqbal, Ameena Iqbal, Raksha Doddabele, Lily Gao, Lauren Fiet, Elliott Fang, Zaky Hussein and Hayden Allen.

Among those students, Bolinger announced the National Merit Finalists, who are Doddabele, Fiet, Gao, Ameena and Omar Iqbal, Joo, Johnson, Landon, Levi, Ohstrom, Varma, Zhou and Allen Hussein.

“Just to let you know how you become a National Merit Finalist, over 22,000 schools, two years ago, gave the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test to 3.5 million students.” The PSAT is a standardized test, which the College Board administers and National Merit Scholarship Corporation co-sponsors.

“Of those, 1.5 million were juniors,” Bolinger said. “You had to be a junior when you took the exam.”

Of the 3.5 million 50,000 were chosen to be semi-finalists. Then, they had to go through an extensive process, in which students had to write essays, the faculty had to recommend the students and the principal had to sign off on the students.

Then, about 15,000 finalists are chosen out of the 50,000 semi-finalists, Bolinger said. Winners of the $2,500 Merit Scholarships are chosen from those finalists.

“[The finalists] are in the top one percent of juniors in the United States on that exam,” she said. “They now will join the ranks of people like John Roberts, the chief justice of the Supreme Court; Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft, and Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon.com.”

“For the last 34 years, Farragut High School has had at least one National Merit Finalist since the National Merit Program started in 1956,” Bolinger said. “Farragut High has been the home high school for almost 350 National Merit semifinalists.

The school also recognized Allen as a National Hispanic Scholar out of the National Hispanic Recognition Program, which started in 1983. Each year, Bolinger said the program honors about 5,000 of the high-scoring students of more than 250.000 students who take the PSAT.

The students who received perfect ACT scores also were recognized. Bolinger said only 2,230 of 2.1 million students receive a perfect score. The seniors are Ameena Iqbal, Joo, Gao, Hussein, Zhou and Ohstrom. The junior who had a perfect score was Thomason, and Fang also made a perfect score.

And, Bolinger announced six FIS U.S. Presidential Scholars candidates: Gao, Ameena Iqbal, Ohstrom, Joo, Hussein and Zhou. She said this is the top award one can get as a high school student. The White House Commission and U.S. Department of Education nominate the students.

‘Congratulations, you guys,” Candace Greer, FHS assistant principal, told the students. “I am so honored to be with you, celebrating with you, today. You deserve so much. Thank you for your hard work.”

Greer also acknowledged teachers or other people who played a large role in the students’ lives.

“Thank you so much for supporting our young people along this journey,” Greer said.