11 Rochester Students Named National Merit Semifinalists

They are among 16,000 high school seniors nationwide to receive the distinction.

Officials from the National Merit Scholarship Corporation announced on Wednesday the names of 16,000 Semifinalists in the 58th Annual National Merit Scholarship Program.

Eleven Rochester students made the list, which represents less than 1 percent of high school seniors nationwide.

These high school seniors have an opportunity to continue in the competition for 8,300 National Merit Scholarships worth more than $32 million that will be offered next spring.

From Rochester and Rochester Hills, the following Semifinalists were named:

Rochester High School

  • Adhitya Venkatesh
  • Kelly L. Yu

Adams High School

  • Zhibin Deng
  • Kimberley E. Hamrick
  • Michelle G. Jin
  • Erica A. Liao
  • Gabrielle Thivierge 

Stoney Creek High School

  • Benjamin R. Bray 
  • Bradley C. Stanton
  • Kevin Zhu 


  • Holly R. Ryan

About 1.5 million juniors in more than 22,000 high schools entered the 2013 National Merit Scholarship Program last year by taking the 2011 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test, which served as an initial screen of program entrants.

To become a Finalist, the Semifinalist and their high school must submit a detailed scholarship application in which they provide information about the Semifinalist’s academic record, participation in school and community activities, demonstrated leadership abilities, and honors and awards received.

A Semifinalist 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.

From the approximately 16,000 Semifinalists, about 15,000 are expected to advance to the Finalist level and in February they will be notified of this designation. All National Merit Scholarship winners will be selected from this group of Finalists. Merit Scholar designees are selected on the basis of their skills, accomplishments, and potential for success in rigorous college studies.

Are you the parent of a National Merit Semifinalist? Upload a photo here.

Joshua Raymond September 13, 2012 at 03:05 PM
Congratulations to these young scholars!
Mike Reno September 13, 2012 at 06:49 PM
Absolutely... congrats to the students! Curious about the district, though. 2013 National Merit Scholar Semifinalists Troy School District (approximate student population 12,200): 60 Rochester Community Schools (approximate student population 14,500): 13 Inquiring minds wonder what's up with Rochester's persistent achievement gap?
Mike Reno September 13, 2012 at 06:51 PM
http://troy.patch.com/articles/record-breaking-60-troy-students-named-national-merit-scholar-semifinalists "It’s a testament to their hard work, the support of their parents, the quality of our teaching staff and the rigor of the TSD curriculum," Troy School District Superintendent Barbara Fowler said.
Lively Town September 13, 2012 at 07:51 PM
Sour grapes from Reno as usual. Tea party didn't take over the school board. Poor Mike.
Mike Reno September 13, 2012 at 08:22 PM
Read this the other day on a blog... apropos here: Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data, ability to repeat discredited memes, and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Also, be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor even implied. Any irrelevancies you can mention will also be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.
Joshua Raymond September 14, 2012 at 01:10 AM
Lively Town, it is a valid question. Some school districts have much higher ratios of National Merit Semifinalists. Ann Arbor is about 1 in 24, Troy 1 in 26, Northville 1 in 32, and Okemos 1 in 22. Rochester is 1 in 127. This is less than the national average! Are our top students not as intelligent or are they not getting the support they need? I congratulate these young men and women. It is great honor and one to be proud of. I also know how much the support of the school means to obtaining this honor. I am grateful I had that support. We need to ask how many more in our schools needed that support but didn't get it.
Marty Rosalik September 14, 2012 at 01:26 AM
Joshua, this may be as simple as the SAT PSAT based testing is not as emphasized in my experience as the ACT. I remember several trial runs at the ACT and driving my now U of M freshmen to Dryden for a second run at the ACT but no SAT. With tests, applications, AP exams and all, the last year has been a blurr. The shot at $2500 would have been a help. She did pick up a Regents Merit scholarship so our kids are doing well at Michigan anyway.
Kristin Bull (Editor) September 14, 2012 at 01:54 AM
From the news release that announced the National Merit Semifinalists: "Caution: Using numbers of Semifinalists to compare high schools, educational systems, or states will result in erroneous conclusions. The National Merit Scholarship Program honors individual students who show exceptional academic ability and potential for success in rigorous college studies. The program does not measure the quality or effectiveness of education within a school, system, or state. For more information about the competition, please visit NMSC’s website at www.nationalmerit.org."
Mike Reno September 14, 2012 at 02:06 AM
Of course, whenever we don't stack up there is always a good explanation. Unless we are looking at something challenging, like the MEAP. Then we trumpet our 95% percentile ranking.
Mike Reno September 14, 2012 at 02:11 AM
Hmmmm.... wonder how many schools would DISCOURAGE the test if that sort of disclaimer wasn't offered. There is a major flaw in trying to use it to compare; we don't know how many students attempted the test. Rochester might be dismissive of the program... and as a result we don't have as many students eligible.
Joshua Raymond September 14, 2012 at 02:56 AM
Mike, you appear to be right. In 2010, apparently only about 170 sophomores and juniors took the PSAT at Adams. I don't know why it is so de-emphasized in our district. From math.com: What's the Difference? Admissions officers and educators often describe the difference between SAT and ACT in these terms: the ACT is a content-based test, whereas the SAT tests critical thinking and problem solving. This perception is one reason many educators (off the record) express a preference for the ACT--because they believe that the ACT is closer to testing the "core curriculum" taught in most school classrooms. While core curriculum is important, critical thinking skills are vital. We need to measure both to determine how well our schools are doing.
Keith September 14, 2012 at 05:02 PM
Mike Reno, lots of assumptions. I agree witih LivelyTown. Sour Grapes. Maybe it's time you start supporting the district instead of tearing it down. Maybe congratulating the kids without taking pokes is too classy for you?
Joshua Raymond September 14, 2012 at 05:23 PM
Mike, you sure get a lot of people who sign up with an untraceable name, put one post on to attack you, and then disappear into the ether. Or maybe it's just one person doing this over and over and over. I wonder when Patch will move to Facebook logins exclusively to cut down on this behavior.
Mike Reno September 14, 2012 at 05:47 PM
What sort of support would you have in mind, Keith? I donated five years of my life to the school board, as well as countless hours trying to identify, document, and share potential improvements, I also donated thousands of dollars. If what you want is public praise for the district... then you must not read the things I write. I do offer praise when it's earned, which, unfortunately for our kids, is not that often. If you want hollow praise... look elsewhere. The school board folks typically strain their arms patting themselves on the back.
Keith September 14, 2012 at 06:04 PM
OK. I get it. Jimmy Carter like. You must love him. Monday morning QB. My kid is doing just fine and his teachers are great. I will definitely take a look into your 5 years on the school board and evaluate them. I'm sure your record is flawless. Why only 5 years?
Joshua Raymond September 14, 2012 at 07:52 PM
Keith, RCS is a great district for the vast majority of kids. However, there are groups of kids that the district needs to improve services for. High-ability learners, the ones referenced in this article, is one of these groups. Many of us are glad for Mike's vocal support of these students. I believe it is because more parents have been vocal that we are seeing the Board of Education and the district administration increase discussion - and hopefully action - on this topic.
Daryl Patrishkoff September 15, 2012 at 11:14 AM
Congratulations to these students, they should be proud of their accomplishments. The dialog by Mike and Joshua is to compare our metrics and performance to other schools systems is fair. I laugh at the “anonymous” posts that take cheap shots at them, all we can guess is they are afraid to say who they really are to hide their hidden agenda. In other words, they are meaningless noise. Metrics are great things to see how you are performing and how to improve. This is a continuous improvement mentality, what is wrong in challenging all to get better? Metrics are the way to do this. If the test is bad, then it is bad for the other communities that scored higher for comparison reasons. Are the scores only skewed for RCS, or all systems? The data says a closer look is necessary. How about focusing on continuous improvement in our own backyard which will continually providing more value. No person or organization is perfect, so we all have improvements to make, that is what makes a great organization, a continuous improvement mentality. You are never done improving.


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