Eight OPRF students selected as National Merit semifinalists

Out of 1.5 million students who took the PSAT, eight OPRF students were chosen as semifinalists for the National Merit Scholarship. 

These students were chosen for their high academic abilities illustrated in their PSAT scores. Around 16,000 students were selected to be semi-finalists and approximately 7,500 high school students will receive a scholarship. 

The eight semi-finalists are Katherine Gearhart, Rebecca Gutierrez, Chris Hedrich, Gabriel Huang, Maeve Mascarenhas, James McConnell, Henry Skalla, and Cory Yu.

Hedrich said that being selected as a National Merit Scholar semifinalist took hours of prep work. Students preparing for the PSAT can take courses through the school or outside resources like Khan Academy. 

“I’ve struggled with the reading section in the past, especially (with) the timing. So getting the timing down (was important),” he said. 

Many students take the PSAT multiple times in high school. “Taking the test so many times every year was helpful,” said Rebecca Gutierrez. Skalla and McConnell both used Khan Academy to brush up on their skills.  

“The grammar section was the easiest, it’s always pretty quick,” said Skalla. Being prepared is important, though Skalla, McConnel, Hedrich and Gutierrez all said the most important thing is not to stress.

Outside of school, Hedrich enjoys playing golf, video games and hanging out with friends. McConnell and Skalla both listen to music in their free time. Hedrich is the founder of Husky Hackers and co-president of Students in Service. Gutierrez is on the girls volleyball team and is part of Best Buddies.

“I found out I was a semifinalist and I wasn’t expecting it at all, but obviously I was thrilled,” Hedrich said. When Skalla said when he found out, “It was surreal. I didn’t think I would (be chosen),” he said.