Four Virgin Islands students earn National Merit honors
Published: September 27, 2012
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ST. CROIX - Four very proud Virgin Islands high school seniors have been selected among thousands of students nation wide as National Merit Scholars and National Achievement Scholars.
In a release from the National Merit Scholarship Corporation, Zoe Powell, 17, of St. Croix Country Day School, and Dimitri Euzebe, 17, from Free Will Baptist School, have been selected among 1,600 black American high school seniors who have been designated in the 49th annual National Achievement Scholarship Program.
Additionally, Saami Zakaria, 17, of Country Day School, and Jordan Ladd, 17, of Antilles School, were selected among 16,000 semifinalists in the 58th annual National Merit Scholarship Program.
All of the students said they were excited about their accomplishment but had not been anticipating it.
"I certainly was not expecting this," Zoe said. "I just try to keep up with my grades, so I was really surprised with I got the news."
Saami and Jordan both said they knew they had done well on the qualifying tests and could be considered, but when the news actually came, they were taken by surprise.
"During morning assembly when I was called to the front of the school, I was a bit concerned, but while it was a surprise it was something I have been working toward," Jordan said.
Dimitri said he plans to remain focused on preparing for the finalist level and keeping his grades up in school.
"Sometimes accomplishments like this boost the confidence that people have in you even more than you have in yourself, but that could make you lose focus and falter," he said.
All of the scholars said they have their minds set on working toward being their class' valedictorian in June.
Jordan and Saami have an opportunity to continue in the competition for about 8,300 National Merit Scholarships valued at more than $32 million that will be offered next spring.
Eileen Artemakis, spokeswoman for the program, said that to be considered for the Merit Scholarship award, semifinalists must fulfill a number of requirements to advance to the finalist level of the competition.
About 1.5 million juniors in more than 22,000 high schools entered the 2013 National Merit Scholarship Program by taking the 2011 Preliminary SAT, which serves as an initial screening of program entrants, she said. The national pool includes the highest-scoring entrants in each state.
Three types of National Merit Scholarships will be offered in the spring of 2013.
Every finalist will compete for one of 2,500 National Merit Scholarships worth $2,500, that will be awarded on a state representational basis.
Dimitri and Zoe now have the opportunity to continue in the competition for about 800 Achievement Scholarship awards worth more than $2.5 million that will be offered this coming spring, as well.
Artemakis said more than 160,000 high school juniors from across the country requested consideration in this year's program. Each Achievement Scholarship finalist will compete for one of the 700 one-time $2,500 scholarships that will be awarded based on a regional representation basis.
While the standards are different, the students now must submit a detailed scholarship application and must have an outstanding academic record throughout high school, be endorsed and recommended by a high school official, write an essay and earn SAT scores that confirm the student's earlier performance on the qualifying test.
- Contact reporter Fiona Stokes at 714-9149 or email email@example.com.