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Byram Hills National Merit Finalists

Eight Byram Hills High School Seniors Named National Merit Semifinalists

September 18, 2016
Eight Byram Hills High School seniors have been named National Merit Semifinalists in the 62nd annual academic competition. They join some 16,000 other students across the country who were recognized – less than one percent of U.S. high school seniors.

The group of semifinalists at Byram Hills comprises roughly four percent of the school’s senior class of 207 students, significantly higher than the national average Principal Christopher Walsh noted.

“It is something that we are very proud of,” Walsh said. “Anytime our students are hitting a prestigious external benchmark in such high numbers, it’s very satisfying.”

The school’s National Merit Semifinalists are William Amorosana, Isabelle Chong, Thomas Daillak, Indra Dan, Timothy Eng, Noah Jacobs, Sabrina You and Juliana Zepf.

Their designation as semifinalists, based on their PSAT scores, allows them to compete for about 7,500 National Merit Scholarships worth $33 million that will be offered next spring.

“Congratulations everybody!” Walsh told them in the school’s college and careers center after they’d been notified Thursday morning. “Nicely done. You guys worked hard and you deserve all that comes with it.”

The students exhibit a range of interests in sciences and humanities, and have already begun research and practical projects, some through the school’s science research program. They are experimenting with robotics, learning multiple languages and studying whether using social media sites causes spikes in excitement and anxiety in adolescents’ brains, among other projects.

Whatever their accomplishments so far, they said they were gratified with the latest achievement, advancing to the next step in the National Merit program.

“It’s nice to know our work paid off,” Daillak said.

Nationwide, about 90 percent of the semifinalists are expected to attain finalist standing, according to the National Merit Scholarship Corporation. Roughly half the finalists will win a National Merit Scholarship, earning the title of Merit Scholar.

The Byram Hills students said the large number of students who made it this far is a testament to what Dan called the “consistent excellence” of the school.

“It’s also a credit to the teachers who helped us,” You said. “So yes: Big shout out to the teachers.”