FIFTEEN Outstanding Students Named National Merit Scholar Semi-Finalists in GMSD

The National Merit Scholarship Program is a prestigious recognition, and these students have demonstrated their exceptional abilities and dedication to academic excellence.

The National Merit Scholarship Program is a highly competitive academic competition that recognizes and honors the top-performing students across the country. Semi-finalists are selected based on their exceptional scores on the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT). Being named a National Merit Scholar Semi-Finalist is not only evidence of their intelligence, but also a reflection of their commitment to academic excellence.

In a word

Our 15 semi-finalists come from different backgrounds and bring a wealth of unique qualities to the table. Each of them has been asked to describe themselves in one word in relation to their scholarly status:

  • Eleanor (Ellie Claire) Warren: Creative
  • George Liu: Consistent
  • Eric Yang: Methodical
  • Abhinav Pande: Tenacious
  • Kate Wiggins: Driven
  • Sarah Hochman: Ambitious
  • Charlotte Glenn: Competitive
  • Owen Johnsen: Curious
  • Niall Manganar: Conscientious
  • Kai Powis-Dow: Inquisitive
  • Ravindu Wijeratne: Diligent
  • Benjamin Pennington: Curious
  • Upi Shanker: Determined
  • Jackson Carver: Curious
  • Aida Xue: Dedicated

These semi-finalists have not only excelled academically, but also shared their valuable tips for learning challenging subjects and effective study habits. Their insights are inspiring and offer guidance to fellow students:

  • Best Tip for Learning Something Difficult: "Ask a peer to explain it in different terms," says Ellie Claire Warren.
  • Best Advice for Studying: "Start early and create fun memory tricks," recommends Kate Wiggins.
  • Future Plans: These bright minds have diverse aspirations, ranging from pursuing degrees in computer science, engineering, actuarial science, public health, political science, international affair, and even patent law.

"Germantown Municipal School District is excited about the high number of National Merit Semifinalists this year,” said Superintendent Jason Manuel. “We want to extend our gratitude to their dedicated teachers and staff, their families, and all who have supported these students throughout their educational journey." 

We invite the community to join us in celebrating the success of these talented students at our upcoming Germantown Board of Education Business Meeting on September 26, 2023 at 6:00 p.m.

For further information or media inquiries, contact: [email protected].

More about each individual recipient:

Eleanor (Ellie Claire) Warren, a student from Dogwood Elementary School and Houston Middle School, and currently attending Houston High School, is committed to her academic endeavors, planning to attend college for chemical engineering. She's known for her creative approach to learning, often seeking peers' help to understand complex topics in different ways and making subjects more engaging. 

George Liu, a student from Riverdale K-8 School and currently attending Houston High School offers practical insights into his approach to learning. George advocates for a hands-on approach to understanding subjects, suggesting practice problems and practical application. His goal is to pursue a degree in Mechanical Engineering in college.

Eric Yang, a student with a methodical approach to education, plans to attend college and pursue a career in medicine. Eric attended Farmington Elementary School, Houston Middle School, and then Houston High School. He values trying new learning methods and taking practice tests. His commitment to a rigorous academic path reflects his disciplined and goal-oriented mindset.

Abhinav Pande, a tenacious student from Riverdale K-8 School, Houston Middle School, and Houston High School is gearing up to attend college with a passion for computer science. His unique approach to learning involves taking breaks to refresh his mindset and discovering connections between different subjects, which he believes can optimize study time. 

Kate Wiggins, a student from Riverdale K-8 School and now Houston High School, is highly driven with a goal of entering public health with a focus on health administration. She pushes to make learning understandable and relatable for herself and others, creating fun memory tricks to prepare to face any academic challenge.

Sarah Hochman, a student who attended Riverdale K-8 School and is currently at Houston High School, emphasizes the importance of diversity of learning. She is ambitious and incorporates multiple learning styles and structured breaks as she pursues her academic goals, one day hoping to enter the foreign service after studying international affairs and politics.

Charlotte Glenn, a competitive student from Dogwood Elementary School, Houston Middle School, and now Houston High School hopes to pursue an undergraduate degree in engineering and, after college, patent law. She is a proponent of collaborative learning and tailoring study methods to accommodate specific learning styles.

Niall Manganar, a student who hopes to pursue a career in either actuarial sciences or statistics possibly followed by medical school, is often described as conscientious. Niall is from Houston Middle School and now Houston High School, where he upholds his passion for shorter study sessions to better comprehend knowledge of topics from multiple perspectives.

Kai Powis-Dow, an inquisitive student who attended Farmington Elementary School, Houston Middle School, and Houston High School, supports persistence in learning difficult concepts. Between good practice, repetition, and learning from previous mistakes, he studies hard to one day achieve his goal of pursuing aerospace engineering.

Ravindu Wijeratne, a student from Farmington Elementary School, Houston Middle School, and currently attending Houston High School hopes to study and enter a career in computer science. A dedicated learner, he works to avoid procrastination by dedicating time and specific spaces to his educational pursuits, as well as taking breaks to gain new perspectives on the skill or topic at hand.

Benjamin Pennington, a student who previously attended Riverdale K-8 School and now Houston High School hopes to be a lifelong learner, past his plans to attend university. He recommends finding overviews to introduce new or particularly difficult topics as well as varying resources to provide multiple perspectives.

Upi Shanker, a determined student from Dogwood Elementary School, Houston Middle School, and currently attending Houston High School endorses eliminating possible distractions and keeping a prioritized list of task items to maximize productivity. Within his goal of studying and building a profession in computer science, he tackles each new topic one step at a time. 

Jackson Carver attended Riverdale K-8 School and currently attends Houston High School. As a curious person, Jackson tries to find ways that the concept connects throughout his studies.  “I'd encourage you to play around with the idea, in your mind or on paper, and see if a concept can break down into or be thought of as the natural result of concepts you do understand. For the math and science fields especially, this mode of thinking leads you to not memorize concepts as much as discover them yourself,” he further explains.  Jackson plans to get a college degree in the STEM field with an emphasis on research.

Owen Johnsen, a naturally curious student, attended Dogwood Elementary and Houston Middle School before beginning his tenure at Houston High School.  For Owen, practice makes perfect, as he advises fellow students, “the more often you do it the better you get”.  Like many of his fellow scholars, he prefers a study space with no distractions.  Owen is unsure of his course of study, but knows that he is college bound.

Aida Xue was described by her parents as being an extremely hard worker and a good listener.  Aida felt her most important quality was being considerate of others.  She attended Houston Middle and is attending Houston High School. Her best advice for mastering difficult topics in school is to ask and then to listen to multiple explanations on the subject by different people.  At home, Aida’s best study tips include limiting background noise by listening to Lo-Fi and Ichiko Aoba songs.  She is excited to embark on her next adventure at college.