Three district students selected as National Merit Semifinalists
Three district students selected as National Merit Semifinalists
Posted on 10/01/2018
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National Merit Semifinalists (from left) Hannah Stauss, Grant Westfall and Sarah Cornerstone

The National Merit Scholarship Program has named three Northwest ISD students – Byron Nelson High School’s Sarah Cornerstone and Hannah Stauss, and Eaton High School’s Grant Westfall – as National Merit Semifinalists, placing them among the top-scoring PSAT-takers in the nation.

The trio’s honor means they are among the top-scoring 1 percent of students in the United States who took the PSAT or National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. The program, one of the most rigorous in the nation, annually honors the 16,000 students with the best test scores as National Merit Semifinalists out of the 1.5 million high school students who take one of the qualifying tests during their junior year.

Dr. Logan Faris, Northwest ISD executive director of secondary education, said students who receive National Merit recognition deserve admiration for their commitment to educational advancement.

“The National Merit Semifinalist distinction is one of the top academic honors possible for any student, and these three students have displayed the value they place on improving themselves by striving for the top,” he said. “It takes hard work to reach this level of academic excellence, and our Northwest ISD community would like to congratulate these students for representing themselves and their schools with distinction.”

Byron Nelson’s Sarah Cornerstone said she is still researching universities and plans to study biomedical engineering, while classmate Hannah Stauss said she is still researching universities but hopes to attend Northwestern University and study musical theatre. Sarah is Byron Nelson’s varsity tennis captain; the Class of 2019’s treasurer; and a member of Lynx Crew, National Honor Society, Spanish National Honor Society and Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Hannah is vice president of Byron Nelson’s thespian troupe and is a member of the school’s mixed choir, advanced theatre and Operation Outreach, the latter of which she is founder and president of.

Eaton’s Grant Westfall said he plans to attend Texas A&M University to study physics. He is a member of Eaton’s band, jazz band, drumline and National Honor Society. In drumline he is a section leader.

Notably, this marks the sixth consecutive year at least one Byron Nelson student has earned National Merit Semifinalist status and the second consecutive year an Eaton student has earned the honor.

The National Merit Scholarship program will next determine which students will receive the distinction of finalist based on the academic performance throughout the entirety of their high school careers as well as the difficulty of courses taken and SAT scores. Winners will be chosen from the pool of finalists based on all previous criteria as well as each finalist’s essay and his or her involvement in activities and leadership roles.

Finalists will be notified in February of their status, with winners from that pool informed of their $2,500 scholarships from March to June.

To learn more about the National Merit Scholarship Program, visit its official website by clicking here.