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Five WLHS students honored nationally


List of 16,000 National Merit semifinalists includes five from WL

Approximately 16,000 high school students were honored as National Merit semifinalists this month, including five local teens. Priyanka Basak, Hunter Bosson, Sarah Chung, Michaela Laughlin and Logan Spear all are seniors at West Linn High School.by: TIDINGS PHOTO: KATE HOOTS  - Five West Linn seniors are National Merit Semifinalists. From left, back row, Hunter Bosson and Logan Spear; front row, Sarah Chung, Priyanka Basak and Michaela Laughlin.

To qualify as semifinalists, each of them was among the 1.5 million high school juniors nationwide who took the Preliminary SAT/National Merit qualifying test last year. Semifinalists represent less than 1 percent of high school seniors in the nation.

Here’s a little information about the five semifinalists:

BasakBasak: Plans to study biology

Priyanka Basak lists her favorite high school subjects as AP biology, AP chemistry, calculus and AP English but, she says, “It’s hard to choose when you like them all.”

School activities include the science bowl, math club, National Honor Society and Math Honor Society. A member of the school’s varsity tennis team, she enjoys watching old movies and television shows, drawing and making greeting cards, and building with Legos during her free time. She also volunteers at the West Linn Public Library.

She would like to attend college on the West Coast, so she can stay close to family and friends.

“I’m also ready for exploring unknown territory and maybe attending college somewhere I’ve never been before,” she said.

She is interested in studying biology and chemistry and is interested in pursuing a career in the medical field, although not necessarily as a doctor.

“I’m really glad (National Merit Scholarship Corp.) recognizes students in this way, giving them the opportunity to earn scholarships,” she said.

BossonBosson: Ready to be judged on his record

Hunter Bosson has his sights set on Cornell University, where he hopes to major in economics and minor in political science. After college, he hopes to attend either law or business school, although he also is interested in earning an advanced degree in economics.

“A career in the Treasury or the state department would both be great,” he said.

At WLHS, his favorite subjects include social sciences, science, AP economics, AP government and AP physics. He is involved in the school’s speech and debate team, Model United Nations, Lobby Club and Science Club.

“I’m proud to be honored for (PSAT results) and to have the opportunity to have a more complete record of my school experience judged further on,” he said.

ChungChung: Dreams of mission trips

Sarah Chung is the editor-in-chief of the WLHS student newspaper, the Amplifier. She plays varsity tennis and is a member of the National Honor Society and Math Society, Link Crew, Red Cross club and the Model United Nations. She also enjoys reading, playing tennis and piano.

Last year, she enjoyed AP biology, although her overall favorite class is sculpture and clay. She is thinking about leaving Oregon when it comes time to attend college, and she eventually hopes to attend medical school.

“My dream is to be a doctor that can go on frequent mission trips and help out,” she said. Being named a National Merit semifinalist could help her advance her goals.

“Being a semifinalist is such an honor, and it opens so many doors for the future,” she said.

LaughlinLaughlin: Enjoys dance and math

Michaela Laughlin has been dancing since she was three years old. She has studied jazz and tap and currently is focusing on ballet. In school, her favorite subject is math, and she also enjoys biology and government classes. She is involved in the Red Cross club, National Honor Society, Math Honor Society and Link Crew, and she is the secretary of the math team.

She hopes to attend a private liberal arts college with a good dance program. She is undecided on either a major course of study or a career, she said, because she is interested in many different areas. Right now, she is leaning toward a mathematics major.

“Being named a National Merit semifinalist is really exciting,” she said. “I’m really thankful for this opportunity and how it’s going to help me through the college process.”

SpearSpear: Hard work pays off

Logan Spear enjoys a range of classes that includes calculus, chemistry, computer science, world history, economics and Japanese. He is a member of the National Honor Society, Math Honor Society and Japanese Honor Society. His hobbies include fencing and FIRST robotics.

He hopes to attend college at Stanford University and said that while he isn’t entirely sure about his future career, he would like to study chemical engineering or economics, with a possible goal of doing research as either a medical doctor or a professor.

“It’s a honor,” he said, to be named a semifinalist, “and reminds me that hard work pays off.”

The next step for semifinalists

To become a finalist, each semifinalist and WLHS staff must submit a detailed application, providing information about the semifinalist’s academic record, participation in school and community activities, leadership abilities, employment and honors and awards received. Finalists must maintain outstanding academic records, write an essay and earn SAT scores that confirm their earlier performance on the qualifying test.

About 15,000 of the national semifinalists will advance to finalist level. Finalists will be notified in February.

National Merit Scholarship winners will be selected from that group of finalists, based on their skills, accomplishments and potential for success in college. Finalists will compete for one of 2,500 National Merit Scholarships, valued at $2,500 and awarded on a state representational basis. National Merit Scholarship winners will be announced in four waves from April to July 2014.

For more information, visit the National Merit Scholarship Corporation online at nationalmerit.org.