Students qualify for merit finalists

A representation of less than 1 percent of the original pool of students, National Merit Scholars are the elite candidates judged to have the strongest combination of academic skills and achievements, extracurricular accomplishments, and potential for success in rigorous university studies in the country.

For the first time in school history, two students at Francis Howell Central have qualified as National Merit Scholar Finalists. Seniors Amy Sweeney and Maddie Wilson have joined the company of such merit scholars as Bill Gates and M. Night Shyamalan.

After nearly a year of standardized testing, waiting, essay writing, and more waiting, the students finally received word on their successful bid towards this prestigious award.

“I kind of forgot about it until this year when I was named a semifinalist earlier in the year,” said Sweeney. “I came home Monday and saw [the National Merit Scholars] envelope, and I knew my mom was going to say ‘You got mail!’”

Other than sheer prestige, National Merit Scholars are eligible for many exclusive scholarships to nearly every school in the nation, including full rides to schools such as Alabama-Birmingham and University of Kentucky.

“It kind of played a role in deciding some colleges that I applied to,” said Sweeney. “Free education is what it is.”

As the girls revel in this national award, they both are making sure to keep humble and cherish their local achievements that got them to where they are now.

“It is a really great honor, but my tennis season was the most successful I’ve ever had, and running newspaper has been a dream come true,” said Wilson.

It is certainly clear that they both have come a long way. Their extensive repertoire of academic and extracurricular achievement sets them apart from most other students at FHC and evidently, the entire nation.

“I think it will help — I had a pretty long list,” joked Wilson.