OPRF students (back) Aidan Goble, Lowell Rindler, Patrick Hoffman, Daniel Johnson, Hayden Jingst, Katherine Stabb, Liam Shea. Front row: Elizabeth Russell, Porter Jingst. Jane Walker, Rachel Janosky are semifinalists. | Provided

Oak Park and River Forest High School have new sources of pride as 11 seniors placed as National Merit Scholarship semifinalists for the coveted 2024 program. 

This year, the honor was earned by Aidan Goble, Patrick Hoffman, Rachel Janosky, Hayden Jingst, Porter Jingst, Daniel Johnson, Lowell Rindler, Elizabeth Russell, Liam Shea, Katherine Stabb and Jane Walker. 

The honored seniors were among the 1.3 million high school juniors across the country who entered the 2024 program. 

“Being a semifinalist makes me feel as if all my hard work in academics is paying off,” said Walker. “It’s very rewarding to be recognized after I have dedicated so much time and effort to education.” 

The National Merit Scholarship Program is an academic scholarship competition recognizing “academically talented students” who have earned exceptional scores on the PSAT. 

According to the press release from OPRF, more than 1.3 million high school juniors across the country took the preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test in 2022. Of those, 16,000 students, less than one percent of high school seniors in the United States, qualified as semifinalists. 

While being a semifinalist is exciting news, in February those students will be notified if they have advanced to the final round, where 2,500 will be selected as recipients of the $2,500 National Merit Scholarship. 

Those are not the only scholarships available, as the organization has approximately 840 corporate-sponsored Merit Scholarship awards for those who meet a corporation’s specific criteria as well as approximately 160 colleges and universities who will award around 3,800 Merit Scholarships to finalists attending their school. 

“We are so excited to add these 11 current seniors to the names of esteemed scholars who have been awarded this honor,” said Lynda Parker, assistant superintendent and principal at OPRF. “These students have worked very hard to accomplish this and deserve to be recognized and celebrated.”  

OPRF students (back row: left to right) Aaron Thompson, Skyler Murray, Myles Millhouse, Elia Wei-Henrys, Naimah Coleman, and Aminatta Brima. (front row: left to right) Imani Nutall, Aisha Abdallah, Maya Berry, Taylor Smith, Oscar Towne IV. Not pictured: Brenden Lowenthal-Wojcik and Benjamin Martin | Provided

The celebrations don’t stop there as OPRF has additional points of pride as students have been recognized by College Board’s National Recognition Program through the National African American Recognition academic honor for being in the top 10% of African American students in the state to took the 2022 PSAT, National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test NMSQT, PSAT 10, or received a score 3 or higher on two or more advanced placement exams. Those students are: Aisha Abdallah, Maya Berry, Aminatta Brima, Naimah Coleman Brenden Lowenthal-Wojcik, Benjamin Martin, Myles Millhouse, Skyler Murray, Imani Nutall, Taylor Smith, Aaron Thompson, Oscar Towne IV, and Elia Wei-Henrys. 

OPRF students (left to right) Andrew Garcia, Adan Pedraza, Alejandro Medina, Simon Gutierrez, Vincent Czarnkowski, Elia Wei-Henrys, William Cotes, and Margaret Dean. Not pictured: Abigael Cockerill, Payton Lowenthal-Wojcik, Samuel Mendez, Nora Meraz, Sara Nimz. | Provided

Thirteen OPRF students also received the National Hispanic Recognition academic honor for scoring in the top 10% among Hispanic students in Illinois who took the PSAT, NMSQT, PSAT 10, or received a score of three or higher on two or more advanced placement exams. Those students are: Abigael Cockerill, William Cote, Vincent Czarnkowski, Margaret Dean, Andrew Garcia, Simon Gutierrez, Payton Lowenthal-Wojcik, Alejandro Medina, Samuel Mendez, Nora Meraz, Sara Nimz, Adan Pedraza, and Elia Wei-Henrys. 

Both the National Merit semifinalist and the College Board National Recognition Program honorees were recognized by OPRF during its annual Scholars Breakfast, which was held on Sept. 7.

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