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Skaneateles H.S. senior named National Merit Scholarship semifinalist

Kaitlin Spear

Kaitlin Spear

— Skaneateles High School senior Kaitlin Spear has been named a semifinalist in the 2012 National Merit Scholarship Program.

Spear, the only 2012 applicant chosen from the entire Skaneateles district, now has an opportunity to continue in the competition for some 8,300 National Merit Scholarships worth more than $34 million that will be offered next spring.

“I really wasn’t expecting this to happen,” Spear said, explaining that during the test some students in front of her were so distracting she did not even finish two or three sections. “So I thought I really messed up, but I guess I didn’t,” she added.

The National Merit Scholarship Program was established in 1955 to honor the nation’s scholastic champions and to encourage the pursuit of academic excellence. Scholarships are underwritten by NMSC with its own funds and by approximately 440 business organizations and higher education institutions.

About 1.5 million juniors in some 22,000 high schools entered the 2012 National Merit Scholarship Program by taking the 2010 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test, which served as an initial screen of program entrants.

The nationwide pool of semifinalists, which represents less than one percent of U.S. high school seniors, includes the highest-scoring entrants in each state.

To become a finalist, a semifinalist must have an outstanding academic record throughout high school, be endorsed and recommended by the high school principal, and earn SAT scores that confirm the student’s earlier performance on the qualifying test.

“We are so proud of her and her work ethic and her drive to excellence; it’s just everything that a parent could ever ask for,” said Kaitlin’s mother Pam Spear. “We thank the school for all their support and the village and the town. To have a school district that places such emphasis on scholarly excellence is just so valuable.”

For the next step in the NMS program, Kaitlin must submit a detailed scholarship application, which includes an essay and information about her participation and leadership in school and community activities. She will work on this with her guidance counselor Mark Barnes, who said he believes Kaitlin is in a good position to get a scholarship.

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