West High hosts most National Merit SemiFinalists


West High has once again upheld its “tradition of excellence.” From the 2010 PSATs emerged 27 fellow classmates, now National Merit Semi Finalists. According to Jerry Arganbright, this number is higher than any other high school in the states of Iowa, Nebraska, Minnesota, Mississippi, or Wisconsin. In fact, West High boasts the most National Merit Semi Finalists out of over 22,000 other high schools. However, West High’s record number of students who qualified for this prestigious honor is 30 in a single year. The high school with the second most National Merit Semi Finalists is in Ames, with 20 students qualifying.
“It gives a perspective of how our students perform comparatively,” said Arganbright. “For me, it means we are doing a great job of preparing our students academically.”
Becoming a National Merit Semi Finalist is a long, fairly complicated process. A student must first meet their state’s selection index by acquiring a high enough score on their Junior year PSATs. Then, the student must write an essay to the National Merit Scholarship Corporation, expressing their interest in becoming a National Merit scholar. After recommendation letters from both the student’s principal and counselor, the process is finally complete.
According to Renato de Leon, when a student is eligible to be a National Merit Semi Finalist, their counselor will send in a list of all the courses they’ve taken from Freshman to Junior year.
If a student continues on to become a National Merit Scholar, there can be many benefits. According to de Leon, many public colleges will offer full scholarships to National Merit Scholars, in order to show scholars choose to apply to their school.
“I believe Iowa State [offers free tuition to National Merit Scholars],” said de Leon.