Going the distance

Luci Nguyen, News Assistant Editor

As Oprah Winfrey once official’s written recommendation, said, “Doing the best at this moment puts you in the best place for the next moment.” Although October 14, 2020 may not have been an especially important day for some, it was a big day for those taking standardized tests. Every year, over 3.5 million students all across the United States take the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test, otherwise known as the Preliminary SAT. According to the National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC), out of the 3.5 million students, only 16,000 become Semifinalists in an academic scholarship competition in order to receive scholarships for universities or for recognition. On September 15, Xavier High School seniors Faith Karl and Nathan Westhoff received this high honor. The next steps in the National Merit Scholarship competition are qualifying to become a National Merit Finalist. According to NMSC, 15,000 of the 16,000 Semifinalists are notified of this achievement. After becoming a Finalist, recipients are open to scholarships from certain colleges. In order to become a National Merit Scholarship Scholar, winners are chosen based on their abilities and accomplishments. Selections are based on the high school an essay from the Finalist, as well as information on how well-rounded the applicant is. Karl mentions how she is involved in the bands at Xavier, as well as other clubs such as Science Olympiad and Math Club. She runs cross country in the fall and track in the spring. Westhoff also commented on how he plays soccer and is a team captain for varsity football. He is involved in clubs like Business Professionals of America, which is for students pursuing careers in business management, information technology, etcetera. When asked about her success on the PSAT, Karl gives advice to students preparing for the standardized test. “Learn how to budget your time. Start studying early. If you put it off, it won’t happen and you won’t feel prepared,” Karl said. Westhoff also offers some insight on how he has been so academically successful. “I commit a lot of time to studying. I make notes over what we learned in class and, before tests, I always review all the material we were given. I ask teachers and others for help when I need it. I always try to study until I know all of the information,”Westhoff said. Both Karl and Westhoff remain undecided in their college search at this point. Xavier teacher Mrs. Stacy Mickelson has seen these two individuals inside and outside of the classroom and explains how Karl and Westhoff have worked hard. “I was not surprised to hear of both Nate and Faith receiving the National Merit Semi-Finalist award. Both are very hard-working students who spent a lot of time and effort to learn to their max potential. I’m happy to see their hard work paying off in such a meaningful way,” Mickelson said. One thing is for sure, when you go the distance, the results will come.