West Shore leads the district with 11 National Merit Scholarship semifinalists

Lauren Youngson, Staff Writer

West Shore has yet again showed the rest of Brevard County why it is a school of choice with 11 out of the 33 National Merit Scholarship semifinalists in the county.

“I am extremely proud of our entire school community, not just the 11 National Merit Scholarship semifinalists,” Principal Rick Fleming said. “They are in the top 99 percentile of high school students, so to have that many in one place I feel honored to just be a part of it. I am very proud of are entire school community and the teachers who help to get them there.”

The National Merit Scholarship Semifinalists from West Shore are Rashad Abdulla, Varun Bansal, Michelle Chin, Brittany Cho, Eran Rae del Castillo, Amanda Farthing, Kaylee McCormack, Tryphina Mikhail, Diana Sheedy, Naomi Sommer and Sangamithra Vandhan.

“I was so anxious,” senior Eran Rae del Castillo.  “I woke up at 5 a.m. on the day the College Board released the names of the semifinalists to the press to scour the Internet for a list of the semifinalists in Florida. When I found West Shore on the list and saw my name, I was so ecstatic and relieved I started crying and ran into the kitchen to tell my mom the news.”

The semifinalists took the PSAT/NMSQT last year along with 1.5 million other high school juniors from across the country.

“Being a semifinalists is such an honor,” senior Diana Sheedy said. “I had taken summer courses in order to be prepared. I main advice for the juniors this year is to think like a test-taker and be able to identify common patterns and strategies. Not to mention practice.”

The West Shore semifinalists will not find out whether or not they are Finalists until February which is when 15,000 who attain that level will be notified by mail.

“Every year the selection index changes, but given the scores I have seen from these students it is a very good possibility we could set a record for National Merit finalists.” Fleming said.

According to Fleming 11 is the most semifinalists West Shore has ever had in one year.

“I am just proud of those students, I am proud of our teachers and I am proud of our whole school.” Fleming said. “We are lucky to be a part of something special both academically and spirit-wise. It is a special place. West Shore is a special place.”