Back row, from left: Alexander Horne, Daniel Morton, Stephen Hannon, Anthony Graffia, Patrick Harris, and Bryan Rapala. Bottom row, from left: Isabelle Brown, Kaitlyn Solarz, Paulina Piwowarczyk, Alexandra Recht, Grace Nessen-Gilligan, and Zachary Jones. 

Back row, from left: Alexander Horne, Daniel Morton, Stephen Hannon, Anthony Graffia, Patrick Harris, and Bryan Rapala. Bottom row, from left: Isabelle Brown, Kaitlyn Solarz, Paulina Piwowarczyk, Alexandra Recht, Grace Nessen-Gilligan, and Zachary Jones.

Saint Viator High School announced Wednesday that seniors Zachary Jones, Grace Nessen-Gilligan and Kaitlyn Solarz have joined an elite group: They were named semifinalists by the National Merit Scholarship Program, based on their preliminary SAT scores taken in 2015.

Officials with the National Merit Scholarship Program said that the semi-finalist pool represents the highest scoring entrants in each state, or less than one percent of high school seniors.

These students now will have a chance to advance to the finalist level, and continue in the competition for some 7,400 National Merit Scholarships worth more than $32 million that will be offered next spring.

National Merit Scholarship officials say 90 percent of semi-finalists advance to become finalists. They 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.

In addition, these seniors were named commended scholars by the National Merit Scholarship Program: Isabelle Brown, Stephen Hannon, Patrick Harris, Anthony Graffia, Alexander Horne, Daniel Morton, Paulina Piwowarczyk, Bryan Rapala, and Alexandra Recht.

While they are not eligible to continue in the competition, they do represent the top three percent of students who took the PSAT test back in 2015. The designation as a National Merit Commended Scholar also helps to separate them during the rigorous college admissions process, Saint Viator Principal Mrs. Eileen Manno adds.

“This makes them even more desirable to colleges who are seeking this kind of well-rounded student,” she said.

All 12 of these students are members of the Fr. Louis Querbes Honors Program, which was launched in 2010 to offer additional challenges and enrichment opportunities for motivated students.

Mrs. Manno said all of these students excel in and out of the classroom and have scored well on their pre-college testing, in part because of their rigorous course work pursued at Saint Viator.

“It’s a tremendous accomplishment for these students and their families. National Merit recognition reflects their dedication and openness to learning, as well as the school’s dedication to academic excellence.”

National Merit Semifinalists: 
Zachary Jones
Grace Nessen-Gilligan
Kaitlyn Solarz

National Merit Commended Scholars: 
Isabelle Brown
Stephen Hannon
Patrick Harris
Anthony Graffia
Alexander Horne
Daniel Morton
Paulina Piwowarczyk
Bryan Rapala
Alexandra Recht