Sunday, September 19, 2004

Schools tie for Merit honors

By Karen Gutierrez
Enquirer staff writer

PARK HILLS - Notre Dame Academy tied with Conner High School this year in producing three students who are National Merit Scholarship semifinalists - more than any other school in Northern Kentucky.

Across the street, Covington Catholic High School also did well on the annual measure of academic prowess, with two semifinalists.

The schools are single-gender. Could that be a factor?

Absolutely, students say.

"You can wake up and just roll out of bed and go to school," said Julie Duncan, 17, a semifinalist from Notre Dame. "You don't worry about how you look or if you're going to ask a stupid question and the boys are going to think you're weird."

Said Andrew Noll, a semifinalist from CovCath: "There's not a lot of distractions, but at the same time, we have a lot of fun."

CovCath last year was named by USA Today as one of the top 20 high schools in the country for watching a basketball game. Students are known for exhorting everyone to attend and making up new cheers as well as singing old ones.

As National Merit semifinalists, the students have a shot at 8,200 scholarships worth $33.9 million to various colleges. Winners will be announced in the spring.

High school juniors are automatically entered into the competition when they take the Preliminary SAT. Their scores determine whether they become semifinalists. To advance, they must complete a detailed application, be recommended by their schools and earn SAT scores similar to their PSAT results.

The Notre Dame and CovCath students said they felt well prepared for the PSAT.

"I like the intensity of the classes" at Notre Dame, said Laura Zerhusen, 17.

Here's more about the students:

• Zerhusen plans to study biology in college and is considering the University of Kentucky, Loyola University in Chicago and other schools.

• Duncan is undecided on a college or a major but jokes that she would love to "stay in school the rest of my life."

• Noll would like to study both engineering and music. He's undecided on a college.

• Julie Anderson, 17, is undecided on a major but wants to attend a small college.

• Michael Awadalla, 17, plans to study engineering. He's considering Purdue University, Stanford and the University of Virginia.

Other semifinalists

These are the other National Merit semifinalists from high schools in Boone, Kenton and Campbell counties:

Bishop Brossart: Daniel Beck

Boone County: Lindsay Maurer

Calvary Christian: Jonathan Smith

Conner: Stacey Doran, Alexandra Luke, Allan Straub

Dixie Heights: Karen Etter, Matthew Liechty

Highlands: Jeffrey Steller, Jacob


Holmes: Keith Torrey

Home school: Michael Glier (Hebron)

Holy Cross: Ryan Sketch

Ryle: Brian Goessling, Shannon Horton

St. Henry: Jordan Martin

Villa Madonna Academy: Matthew Love, Christopher Polito

Walton-Verona: Max Gjerde

Southeast Indiana

East Central: Jeremy Holliday

Oldenburg Academy: Joel Wukusick



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