The National Merit® Scholarship Program named five District 155 seniors as 2020 National Merit® Semifinalists. The semifinalists represent less than one percent of U.S. high school seniors and are the highest-scoring students in each state.
Max Beck - Prairie Ridge
Luke Kim - Prairie Ridge
Alexander Kitchen - Crystal Lake South
Henry Ryerson - Crystal Lake Central
Sajiv Shah - Prairie Ridge
Max Beck, a senior at Prairie Ridge, is part of the FIRST Tech Challenge robotics team that was founded last year, along with the math team and the EIU Academic Challenge team. Outside of school, he is part of an international community of people writing music for retro computers and game consoles, for which he has written songs, helped build a website, and run a few livestreams. Beck is on track to graduate from Prairie Ridge in December 2020. Afterward, he plans to spend time in the workforce before attending college to study computer science and 3D graphics.
Luke Kim has also been selected from Prairie Ridge High School. Kim is a senior involved in National Honor Society, Spanish National Honor Society, Student Council, LINK Crew, Spanish Club, and Varsity Academic Challenge (ACES) team. This spring, he established an outreach program called Fútbol for Hope partnered with HOPE's IN, a nonprofit based out of Barrington, which sends supplies and staple foods to Guatemala City, an impoverished community that was deeply affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Kim also volunteers at TOP Soccer, a local organization that works with children with special needs and allows them to develop teamwork and soccer skills in a safe and supportive environment.
“I hope to study at a university after high school, specializing in incorporating sociology and medicine to help make the world a better place. I'm not sure what college exactly I will be attending, but hope to go to one that fits my interests and allows me to really grow,” said Kim.
Zander Kitchen is a senior at Crystal Lake South High School. He has been recognized as a National AP scholar and is involved in National Honor Society, Student Council, drumline and band, the Crystal Lake South math team, and is a student member of the Society of American Military Engineers (SAME). Kitchen is also a varsity wrestler and has served as an AVID program tutor. After high school, Kitchen plans to study engineering and eventually serve in the military as a fighter pilot.
Henry Ryerson attends Crystal Lake Central High School. The senior is passionate about anything to do with computers. He is involved in Computer Club at Crystal Lake Central and his hobbies include coding, video games, and working independently on projects. Ryerson’s plan is to attend college in the future.
Sajiv Shah is the Co-President of National Honor Society, plays football for Prairie Ridge, is a Life Scout in Boy Scouts, is in German National Honor Society & German Club, and competes in Math Team, Scholastic Bowl & the ACES team. He plans to attend a 4-year university, to study economics and mathematics. Shah hopes to pursue a career in finance and eventually move into politics.
High school students enter the National Merit Scholarship Program by taking the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT®). The exam serves as an initial screening of about 1.6 million students each year. The semifinalists represent less than one percent of U.S. high school seniors and are the highest scoring students in each state.
Students will find out if they have advanced to Finalist standing in February 2021. Beginning in March 2021, National Merit Scholarship winners will be awarded.