By Cindy Kranz
The Cincinnati Enquirer
FINNEYTOWN - For the third straight year, St. Xavier High School is No. 1 in the state when it comes to producing National Merit semifinalists.
The all-boys Catholic school, highly regarded for its athletic and academic programs, has 28 semifinalists, according to the National Merit Scholarship Corp., which released results Wednesday.
Other Tristate schools with a high number of semifinalists: Sycamore High School, 16; Seven Hills School, 15; and Walnut Hills High School, 14.
Approximately 16,000 semifinalists nationwide were named in the 49th annual National Merit Scholarship Program.
The students now will compete for 8,000 Merit Scholarships, worth $32 million, to be awarded in the spring.
More than 1.3 million juniors in more than 21,000 high schools entered the program by taking the 2002 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. The nationwide pool of semifinalists, representing less than 1 percent of U.S. high school students, is made up of the highest scoring entrants in each state.
St. Xavier had 32 semifinalists last year, the school's highest number ever. This year's number maintains the school's average of 24 semifinalists a year.
Paul Zook, spokesman for St. Xavier, said the test is just one barometer of a good school. Of the school's 1,450 students, 336 are seniors.
"You start with a bunch of very bright kids," he said. "The guiding principle of our educational system is to push them to go as high as they can."
The students are accustomed to taking all kinds of tests, he said, so their comfort level in taking tests might have something to do with their success on the National Merit exam.
"Teaching for this National Merit test is not something we do," Zook said. "We don't, specifically, target our kids for these standardized tests."
Tristate Merit semifinalists:
Anderson: Maxim Brumbach, Alex Howe, Joseph Krafte-Jacobs.
Roger Bacon: Matthew Bauer, James Denning, Tracy Kemme.
Stephen T. Badin: Darbey Maheu.
Batavia (home school): Eric Mickelsen.
Bethel-Tate: Alice Stinetorf.
Bishop Fenwick: Evan Jones.
Cincinnati Country Day: Deepti Chinta, Christopher Franz, Nima Ghamsari, Jason Juang, Robert Kulwin, Sarah Motley, Bradley Walker, April Yee, Chih-Jiun Yeh.
Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy: Jennifer Allen, Courtney Clark, Brent Shaffer.
Colerain: Jacob Kiely, Cody Strecker.
Edgewood: Melanie Cole, Courtney Kaylor.
Fairfield: Kenneth Benge.
Hamilton (home school): Allan Rosenow.
William H. Harrison: Justin Lawler.
Hillsboro: Kevin Shull.
Indian Hill: Jing Liu, Linsey Rogers, Sumesh Thundathil.
Kings: Ryan Byerly, Irene Duke, Robert Graessle, Kera Halbersleben, Jason Palmer, Kimberly Vandegrift.
Lakota East: Brandon Bright, Douglas Brown, Sanjay Hari, Stephen Landers, Heiko Yang.
Lakota West: Kristal Dobbins, Shengyi Mao.
Lebanon: Lauren Holcomb.
Lemon Monroe: Benjamin Rubin.
Little Miami: Patrick Morgan.
Loveland: Jennifer Gable.
Loveland (home school): Jennifer Brown.
Madeira: Christopher Justice, Carl Lecompte, Eli Maiman, Kimiko Parker.
Mariemont: Mark Boone, Samuel Howles-Banerji, Joshua Kuempel, David Rosson, Benjamin Walker.
Mason: David Pierce.
McAuley: Katherine Hart, Elizabeth Meng, Morgan Patten.
Middletown: Andrew Homan, Jens Piepgrass.
Milford: Jared Krueger, Laurie Lotz.
Archbishop Moeller: Ben Hunter, David King, Thomas Lapille, Agustya Mehta, Daniel Schwallie.
Mount Notre Dame: Amanda Knollman.
Oak Hills: Lauren Dworsky, Peter A. Outcalt.
Princeton: Corey Dugan, Cherie Garvis, Christina Gillespie, Anneke Leunk, Victoria Martin, Anar Patel, Andrew Stephan.
Purcell Marian: McKenzie Kugler.
Seven Hills: Christie Alexander, Yarl Balachandran, Bryan Bibler, Thomas Collins, Vitaly Goldfeder, Megan Hoffmann, Zachary Hurwitz, Katherine Menzies, Danny Mou, David Mou, Axis Sivitz, Jacob Stinnett, Benjamin Teets, Patrick Weisman, David Whitsett.
St. Ursula: Melanie Brinck, Emily Broun, Erin Gartner, Melanie Murphy, Katherine Schroer, Laura Thompson, Carolyn Wait.
St. Xavier: Francis Bergh, Robert Borek, Andrew Coonce, Samuel Corbo, James England, Patrick Finnigan, Christopher Hendy, Mark Herman, Joseph Hilbert, Robert Hobohm, Kyle Karches, Brenton Kenkel, Joseph Knadler, Ajay Kumar, Adam Lewis, Gregory Lim, Daniel Martin, Dugan Meyer, Jeffrey Peters, Philip Richey, Phillip Ross, Charles Ruehr, Eric Sayre, Philip Smith, Matthew Spotts, Matthew Volpenhein, Peter Wenstrup, Nicholas Wolterman
Summit Country Day: Lisa Cosgrove, John Loughran, Whitney Manning, Philip Newsom, Anna Ryan, John Wilson.
Sycamore: Janice Feng, Michael Guder, Dennis Jiang, Amy Kim, Lois Kwa, Jacob Lee, Evan Leitner, David Ma Ze, Katherine McInerney, Joseph Philpott, Emily Rock, Nathan Schneider, Nitin Sekar, Karen Staubach, Christine Troy, Robert Truax.
Talawanda: Morgan Davidson, James Elliott, Helen Pennock, Heather Soika.
Ursuline: Helen Debbeler, Claire Enouen, Emily Fischer, Jenifer Hatch, Helen Hobson, Lauren Huff, Katie Mock, Elizabeth Ranz.
Walnut Hills: Emily Bens, Matthew Bregger, Roxanne Corkin, Alec Cunningham, Christopher Dragga, Elizabeth Duermit, Samuel Garvey, Heather Heldman, Elizabeth Kelley-Swift, Andrew Meiser, Miriam Myers, Jay Olman, Catherine Starr, Qian Wei.
West Chester (home school): Caroline Kemme.
Winton Woods: Philip Stichtenoth.
Wyoming: Jared Anderson, William Culhane, Benjamin Glass, Jacob Hanna, Elizabeth Kersten, Robert Kiley, Amanda Masters, Mark Mollineaux, Phillip Roebuck.
Beechwood: Chris Jones.
Calvary Christian: Kelly Schmitt.
Covington Catholic: Jeffrey Drees, Matthew Nelson.
Dixie Heights: Timothy Miller.
Grant County: Josh O'Flaherty.
Highlands: Elizabeth Nielsen.
Holy Cross: Paul Schlarman.
Lloyd Memorial: Erin Wilkins.
St. Henry: Adam Cahill, Sean Pillai, Tyler Sanders.
Simon Kenton: John Mains.
Villa Madonna Academy: William Fotsch, Charles Gabis.
Walton-Verona: Michael Rinschler.
Batesville: Michael Rauscher.
Batesville (home school): Jessica Whitehair.
Sunman (home school): John Rice.
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