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The Student News Site of Jupiter Community High School

War Cry

The Student News Site of Jupiter Community High School

War Cry

The Student News Site of Jupiter Community High School

War Cry

Jupiter High students qualify as National Merit Scholarship Semifinalists

Chase Baxter
National Merit Scholarship qualifiers pose on campus at Jupiter High School. Pictured Left to Right: Connor Johnston, Jonathon Rusczyk, Shoichiro Terazawa, Aden Vargas, Lucas Groves

Jupiter High School seniors Lucas Groves, Connor Johnston, Jonathan Rusczyk, Shoichiro Terazawa and Aden Vargas were selected as the 2024 National Merit Scholarship Semifinalists in the 69th annual National Merit Scholarship Program.

High school juniors can enter the National Merit Scholarship Program by taking the Preliminary SAT/ National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT). In Fla., to be qualified for the scholarship, juniors need to score in the state’s top one percent, translating to a selection index score of 216. The selection index is calculated by adding the student’s math, writing and reading scores and multiplying it by two.

“I was surprised [to have qualified] because I didn’t think I did well [on the PSAT/NMSQT] in the first place,” Vargas said. “I had to rush on certain questions and even when I got my score I still wasn’t sure I would qualify for the scholarship.”

Qualifying for this prestigious title sets students apart on their college applications. Colleges distinguish the number of National Merit Scholars in their incoming freshmen class. 

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“While I previously thought that I would qualify as a semifinalist based on my PSAT score and predicted cutoff level, I liked hearing congratulations from my friends and family after the semi finalists were announced,” Groves said.

Semifinalists must meet the following requirements to be considered as National Merit Finalists: recommended by their high school’s principal, maintained a record of high academic performance throughout high school, completed the National Merit Scholarship Application, which includes an essay and earned a score on the SAT or ACT confirming their PSAT/NMSQT performance. 

“By definition it is not a scholarship attainable by the majority of students. National Merit is based on the top one percent of PSAT scores so it’s really just a matter of luck to even qualify,” Johnston said. “On top of that, the small number of semifinalists will get cut down even more before any actual scholarships are awarded.” 

National Merit Scholarship Program offers three scholarships to finalists: National Merit $2500 Scholarship, corporate-sponsored Merit Scholarship awards and college-sponsored Merit Scholarship awards. Each of these help assist students in funding their college education. Special scholarships can be awarded to students who did not qualify as a finalist, but meet a corporate sponsor’s criteria.

“If I was awarded the scholarship, it would give me more financial security throughout college, and, if I got into my first-choice college, becoming a finalist could lessen or even work towards getting rid of any student debt I might get from attending the school,” Groves said. 

In Feb. 2024, semifinalists will be notified whether they advanced in the program. Out of 16,000 semifinalists, 15,000 are expected to become finalists. In the Spring of 2024, scholarship recipients will be selected based on their academic accomplishments, the basis of their skills and their potential success in rigorous college courses. 

“I am both anxious and eager to find out if I qualified as a finalist,” Johnston said. “I also wish the best for the other semifinalists.”

The 2024 National Merit Scholarship winners will be announced April through June on four nationwide press releases.

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About the Contributors
Ruby Monteith, Co-Managing, Features and Social Media Editor
Ruby Monteith, senior, is the Co-Managing Editor, Features Editor and Social Media Manager of Jupiter War Cry. As she enters her fourth and final year on staff, Monteith reflects on how War Cry has developed her passion for writing. “Journalism to me is the beauty of creating and conveying stories in your own light while being factual,” Monteith said. “War Cry has really allowed me to find my own voice.” After graduation, she hopes to spend time in London studying business marketing and eventually own her own business all while continuing her love for journalism.   
Chase Baxter, Editor-in-Chief
Chase Baxter, senior, is going into his fourth year of War Cry and seventh year of journalism as a whole as one of the publications three Editors-in-Chief. Throughout his time in the class, Baxter has held an array of positions, noting his various experiences as a highlight of his time spent writing for the newspaper. "I've had a pretty progressive and fantastic experience," Baxter said. "I began as a lowly staffer and I worked my way up to a sports editor and then managing editor and now finally I'm Editor-in-Chief with my two best buds." As a result of his journalistic skills, Baxter has received numerous awards for his writing, including having an article be awarded a Best of SNO. Outside of newsroom, Baxter enjoys playing a variety of sports including baseball, pickleball, and golf. Though he hasn't decided where he is attending, Baxter is trying to go to Duke and major in engineering.

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