National Merit Scholar semi-finalists demonstrate school excellence

National+Merit+Scholarship+semifinalist%2C+Marta+Markowitz+doing+her+homework+in+the+media+center.

McKenzie Bohlig

National Merit Scholarship semifinalist, Marta Markowitz doing her homework in the media center.

After countless hours of preparation and fretful nights prior to the PSAT, senior Marta Markowicz and college freshman Jacob Kosyakovsky brought pride to the school by achieving the positions of semi-finalists for National Merit Scholar.

The application process of National Merit Scholar involves qualifying PSAT scores, a letter of recommendation, and an essay. Of the 1.6 million initial testers, just 16,000 become semi-finalists, two of whom come from Stillwater Area High School. Those who qualify to be finalists, announced spring of 2017, will receive college scholarships.

Stillwater has an extensive history of successful students. Since 2013, there have been 63 commended National Merit Scholars and 13 semi-finalists from this school alone. Principal Rob Bach attributes such impressive numbers to hard-working and intelligent students.

“Obviously those are kids who know how to think, who know how to problem solve,” Bach said.

One of the benefits of being named a semi-finalist or finalist for National Merit Scholar is the ability to earn scholarships. Bach recognizes these as a tremendous reward for the students’ efforts.

Not only does it open up doors to the actual scholarship, but other scholarships have now been opened to me because of the fact that I am a National Merit semi-finalist,” Markowicz said. “College is expensive. Anything you can do to make it cost less is always going to be helpful in the future.”

— Marta Markowicz

“The great thing is that it usually means they have options,” Bach explained. “One of the goals that we always have is to try to prepare students to be ready, not just eligible, but ready to do whatever it is they want to do. So, that way you don’t have a limited choice of schools or a limited choice of career paths.”

Markowicz spends her time mountain biking, making robots, and of course, doing homework. She hopes that her tireless efforts studying and working hard will continue to pay off in the form of scholarships.

“Not only does it open up doors to the actual scholarship, but other scholarships have now been opened to me because of the fact that I am a National Merit semi-finalist,” Markowicz said. “College is expensive. Anything you can do to make it cost less is always going to be helpful in the future.”

University of Minnesota freshman and fellow National Merit Scholar semi-finalist Jacob Kosyakovsky credits his accomplishment to studying hard and concentration.

“I think that [the PSAT test] requires you to maintain your focus. I think that’s why I do well on those tests, because I try to maintain focus during the entire test,” Kosyakovsky said.

In addition to scholarship money, Kosyakovsky’s pragmatic approach to standardized testing has earned him a sense of achievement.

“I’m glad to represent Stillwater High School,” Kosyakovsky said. “I’m happy that I have achieved what I have.”

While they anxiously await to hear the National Merit Scholar finalists, Kosyakovsky and Markowicz are content with their achievements so far. They represent SAHS as a place of excellence and for that, the school thanks them.