National Merit Recognizes Five Students in Pawling

October 16, 2019

The National Merit Scholarship Program, which recognizes students who score in the top tier of students across the nation on the PSAT, is honoring five Pawling students this year.

           

Michael Bai and Lily O'Hara have qualified as Semifinalists in the 2020 National Merit Scholarship Program. This puts them in the top 16,000 students in the nation, the top 1%. Stine Isak, Matthew Larocchia, and Christopher Schmidt were named Commended Students, placing them in the top 50,000 students around the country in a pool of more than 1.5 million.

The National Merit program was first established in 1955 to create scholarship opportunities for these high achieving students.

           

Michael Bai is a member of a number of honor societies, including the National Honor Society, Science Honor Society, Math Honor Society, and Spanish Honor Society. A leader in a number of clubs on campus, Bai has served as president and treasurer of Student Council, and is currently co-president of the Math Honor Society and captain of the Math Team. A member of the Math Team since 2017, he has earned both individual and team honors. Well rounded, he participates in basketball, cross country, indoor track, outdoor track and plays piano for Pawling United Methodist Church, where he also is an Appalachian Service Project volunteer. Bai also won Pawling's Got Talent local talent show with his performance of Rachmaninoff.

 

 “I am beyond incredibly honored and elated to be recognized by such a prestigious program and represent the top 1% of students from New York State,” Bai says. “I worked unbelievably hard for the SAT before this exam, so it's very nice to see all my hard work pay off.”

           

Lily O'Hara has been the vice president of her class since freshman year. This year she is also serving as the editor of the Yearbook. A member of a number of honor societies, O’Hara has served as the vice president of the French Honor Society and is currently vice president of the Science Honor Society.  She is also co-president of the Math Honor Society and a member of the Spanish Honor Society. A Lake Carmel lifeguard, O’Hara also serves the community as an Appalachian Service Project volunteer and Midnight Run volunteer. “Receiving this recognition has made me feel like all of the time and effort that I put into academics is really paying off,” she says. “It feels amazing to be recognized for such a prestigious honor.”

           

Stine Isak has been inducted into the National Honor Society, Science National Honor Society and Spanish National Honor Society. Captain of the Debate Team, Isak also serves as an officer for the Gay-Straight Alliance and is a member of the Literary Society. She is a member of the Varsity Dance Team and involved in the Pawling High School Chorus.

“I feel excited and proud to be recognized with this honor,” Isak says. “For me, the best part of receiving Commended Student status isn’t the designation itself, but rather, the recognition of the hard work that it represents.”

           

Matthew Larocchia has received a number of honors, including the Clarkson University High School Achievement Award, the Distinguished Christian Character Award for Academics, Leadership and Fine Arts and the President’s Education Award for Outstanding Academic Excellence. A member of the Science Honor Society, he is also the co-president of the Science Honor Society. Larocchia is very active in the community as a volunteer and musician. He has performed in the Tabernacle Christian Academy ensemble and on saxophone at Barnes and Noble and Cedar Valley Nursing Home. Larocchia helped repair houses in West Virginia as an Appalachian Service Project volunteer.

           

“I feel honored and humbled to be recognized by the National Merit Program,” Larocchia says. “My work as a student is very important to me and it is encouraging to be acknowledged for my academic efforts.”

           

Christopher Schmidt is a member of many honor societies, including the National Honor Society, the Science Honor Society, the Mathematics Honor Society and the Spanish Honor Society. Last year he took third place in Behavioral Science at the Somers Science Fair. A member of the Math Team, Schmidt is also a member of the Pep Band, Chess Club and Peer Leadership Team. He also plays on a number of teams: basketball, cross country, indoor track and outdoor track. An Appalachian Service Project volunteer, he also volunteers with the Midnight Run, Pawling Library Legions Program and Interact Club of Pawling.

           

“I am extremely humbled to have been bestowed this award from an institution as prestigious as the National Merit Program,” Schmidt says, “It is truly a wonderful feeling to be able to be recognized for my hard work throughout high school in this manner."

           

The National Merit program was first established in 1955 to create scholarship opportunities for these high achieving students.

 

Christopher Schmidt, Stine Isak, Matthew Larocchia we named as Commended Students.

 

Michael Bai and Lily O'Hara qualified as Semifinalists in the 2020 National Merit Scholarship Program. 

 

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