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6 Fenwick Students Among 16,000 Semifinalists Competing for National Merit Scholarships


Last year approximately 1.6 million juniors from 22,000 high schools entered the 2018 National Merit Scholarship Program by taking the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT). The nationwide pool of semifinalists, announced last week, includes the highest-scoring entrants in each state and represents fewer than one percent of all high-school seniors.

“We are fortunate to enroll students who possess incredible talent and who work to maximize those abilities,” says Peter Groom, Principal of Fenwick High School. “We are proud of these young men and women.” The six semifinalists from Fenwick (with grade schools and cities of residence) are:

> Matthew Augustyn (Avery Coonley School, Westmont)
> Thomas Bartecki (St. Isaac Jogues, Hinsdale)
> Paul Cederoth (St. Giles, Oak Park)
> Jacob Mazur (Elm Middle School, Elmwood Park)
> Skye Ozga (LJ Hauser Junior High, Riverside)
> Jack Vomacka (St. Mary’s, Riverside)

These academically talented seniors have an opportunity to continue in the competition for some 7,500 National Merit Scholarships worth more than $32 million that will be announced between April and July 2018. A Semifinalist must have an outstanding academic record throughout high school, 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.

To be considered for a Merit Scholarship award, Semifinalists must fulfill several requirements to advance to the Finalist level of the competition, according to NMSC. For each Semifinalist, the Fenwick administration will submit a detailed application providing information about the student’s academic record, participation in school and community activities, demonstrated leadership abilities, employment, and honors and awards received.

Scholarships are underwritten by NMSC with its own funds and by approximately 420 business organizations as well as higher-educational institutions. Three types of National Merit Scholarships will be offered next spring. Every Finalist will compete for one of 2,500 National Merit $2,500 Scholarships awarded on a state-representational basis. About 1,000 corporate-sponsored Merit Scholarship awards will be provided by 230 corporations and business organizations for Finalists who meet their specified criteria, such as children of the grantor’s employees or residents of communities where sponsor plants or offices are located. In addition, about 190 colleges and universities are expected to finance some 4,000 college-sponsored Merit Scholarship awards for Finalists who will attend the sponsor institution.

Based in Evanston, NMSC is a not-for-profit organization that has awarded scholarships to more than 330,000 deserving students since it was established in 1955.

Eleven other Fenwick students will receive letters of commendation along with approximately 34,000 other high school seniors from across the United States. These commended students placed among the top 50,000 scorers. “The young men and women being named Commended Students have demonstrated outstanding potential for academic success,” commented a spokesperson for NMSC. They are:

  • Joseph Babbo (St. Giles, Oak Park)
  • Martin Dawson (St. Monica, Chicago)
  • James Heneghan (Hinsdale Middle School, Hinsdale)
  • Mary Hester (Westfield Middle School, Bloomingdale)
  • Ryan Lavin (Visitation, Elmhurst)
  • Nora O’Connor (St. Mary’s, Riverside)
  • Eileen Petros (Immaculate Conception, Elmhurst)
  • Joseph Rafferty (St. John of the Cross, Western Springs)
  • Abigail Schierl (Immaculate Conception, Elmhurst)
  • Noah Shaar (Peckwas Prep, Chicago)
  • Sarah Winkiel (Bryan Middle School, Elmhurst)
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