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Record Number of Gatton Academy Seniors Named National Merit Semifinalist

  • Author: Zack Ryle
  • Author: Thursday, September 14th, 2017
Record Number of Gatton Academy Seniors Named National Merit Semifinalist

20 seniors from The Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science in Kentucky have been recognized as semifinalists in the 2018 National Merit Scholarship Competition, marking the most students recognized in one school year in the school’s history.

Since The Gatton Academy’s inception in 2007, 117 students have been named National Merit Semifinalists.  92 current Gatton Academy seniors took the PSAT, meaning 22 percent of students made the National Merit Semifinalist level.

The 2017 National Merit Semifinalists from The Gatton Academy are:

  • Jon Bramley (Fairdale High School) of Louisville
  • Ethan Brown (McCracken County High School) of Paducah
  • Margaret (Maggie) Cook (Larry A. Ryle High School) of Union
  • David Ewing (Henry Clay High School) of Lexington
  • Emily Guernsey (Sacred Heart Academy) of Prospect
  • Camuel Hart (Rowan County Senior High School) of Morehead
  • Skyler Hornback (LaRue County High School) of Sonora
  • Wren Jenkins (Paul G. Blazer High School) of Ashland
  • Arjun Kanthawar (North Laurel High School) of London
  • Benjamin Kash (Greenwood High School) of Bowling Green
  • Nikhil Krishna (Corbin High School) of Corbin
  • Noemi Leibman (North Oldham High School) of Prospect
  • Emma Moore (Casey County High School) of Liberty
  • Keelee Pullum (Warren Central High School) of Bowling Green
  • Natalie Reed (Highlands High School) of Fort Thomas
  • Mary Kirsten Reilly (Central Hardin High School) of Elizabethtown
  • Alexandria Scoville (South Laurel High School) of London
  • Selin Sergin (Pulaski County High School) of Somerset
  • Carly Taylor (Campbell County High School) of Cold Spring
  • Brian Zhu (Paul L. Dunbar High School) of Lexington

Approximately 1.6 million juniors entered the 2018 National Merit Scholarship Program by taking the 2016 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT®), which served as the initial screen of program entrants.  From this list comes the nationwide pool of Semifinalists, representing less than one percent of U.S. high school seniors, and includes the highest scoring entrants in each state.  The number of Semifinalists in a state is proportional to the state’s percentage of the national total of graduating seniors

“It is exciting to see the hard work and focus with which these students pursue academic achievement recognized at a national level.  I applaud the preparation and support our students received in their sending high schools and school districts which contributed to the students’ academic development,” stated Dr. Lynette Breedlove, Director of The Gatton Academy. “I am proud of these students for going beyond academics to contribute to their communities, including those in their home areas, here in Bowling Green, and within our school.”

Since students take the qualifying PSAT exam in October of their junior year of high school, much of their preparation stems from learning opportunities during their freshman and sophomore years of high school. The Gatton Academy builds on those experiences to provide students with a robust application and preparation for the SAT, a critical component in becoming a finalist.

From the approximately 16,000 semifinalists, about 15,000 are expected to advance to the Finalist level.  To become a Finalist, a Semifinalist and their school must submit a detailed scholarship application, which provides information about the Semifinalist’s academic record, participation in school and community activities, demonstrated leadership abilities, employment, and honors and awards received.  A Semifinalist must have an outstanding academic record, be endorsed and recommended by a high school official, write an essay, and earn SAT® scores that confirm the student’s earlier performance on the qualifying test.  Finalists will be announced in February with scholarship recipients being notified in four nationwide releases beginning in April and concluding in July.

For more information about The Gatton Academy, visit www.wku.edu/academy or call (270) 745-6565.


About the National Merit Scholarship Program: Established in 1955, National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) is an independent, not-for-profit organization that operates without government assistance. NMSC conducts the National Merit® Scholarship Program and the National Achievement® Scholarship Program–annual competitions for recognition and college undergraduate scholarships. The honors awarded by NMSC to exceptionally able students are viewed as definitive marks of excellence. Recipients of Merit Scholarship® awards, Achievement Scholarship® awards, and corporate-sponsored Special Scholarships have increased the nation’s respect for intellectual accomplishments and have contributed significantly to its talent pool of future leaders.


About The Gatton Academy: Established in 2007, The Gatton Academy is Kentucky’s first residential high school for gifted and talented junior and seniors. The Gatton Academy’s students enroll as juniors and are full-time WKU students pursuing their interests in advanced science, technology, engineering and mathematical careers. The Gatton Academy has been named to The Washington Post’s list of top-performing schools with elite students for nine consecutive years and was named the number one public high school in the United States by The Daily Beast for three consecutive years – 2012, 2013 and 2014.

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