Five Seniors Selected as National Merit Semifinalists
Five Rockhurst High School seniors have been announced as National Merit Semifinalists. They are: Joshua Frerker, Sean Kueny, Jack Morris, Braden Schleicher and Thomas Tietjen.
More than 1.5 million students entered the 2021 competition last school year by taking the 2019 PSAT, which serves as the initial screen for program entrants. Around 50,000 earned the highest index score to qualify for National Merit Scholarship Program recognition. Of those top students, approximately one-third, or about 16,000, are named as Semifinalists.
Looking forward to February, some 15,000 Semifinalists will be notified that they have been selected to Finalist standing.
Joshua Frerker on his National Merit Semifinalist selection: "Being selected as a National Merit Semifinalist means a lot to me because the countless hours my fellow recipients and I have dedicated to our studies and other interests have now paid off. I am also very grateful for the teachers and staff at Rockhurst who have gone above and beyond to push me to be the best person I can be. After finishing my senior year, I hope to study engineering in college. The schools I am interested in attending next year are Vanderbilt University, Georgia Institute of Technology, or the University of Kansas. In the long term, I hope to use my future knowledge and experience to improve the wellbeing and quality of life for others. My favorite thing about Rockhurst has been its widespread and positive presence as a source of leadership and spirituality in the Kansas City community. I am proud to be a part of this community as a Senior Class Representative for the Rockhurst SGA, a Kairos retreat leader, and a competitor for the Rockhurst Math Team. I’d also like to point out the tremendous effort Rockhurst administration has put into the planning of this in-person school year. Personally, in-person school is much more engaging and effective than virtual school, so I’m thankful for the opportunity to go to Rockhurst in-person for my senior year."
Sean Kueny on his National Merit Semifinalist selection: "The selection represents a great opportunity. College is extremely expensive these days, and I now have more doors open to pay for it. After graduation, I plan on attending college and following a creativity-related path, preferably one that would lead to a career in architecture or aerospace engineering. I am still in the process of narrowing down my list of higher educational institutions, but have managed to make a list of schools that offer both programs. Overall, I am grateful for having been challenged academically and through co-curricular activities at Rockhurst. I feel that the school has pushed me to be more. I have lettered in Robotics, Speech & Debate, participated in French Club, and guest-written for the school newspaper. Rockhurst is a bastion of high-achieving students, who number far more than the students who qualified to be National Merit Semifinalists. Through their hard work, these scholars help create a culture of excellence which has inspired me, and certainly many others, to perform well academically. In a very supportive manner, we drive each other to accomplish more."
Jack Morris on his National Merit Semifinalist selection: "The National Merit is an award that shows that my hard work is paying off. Although it’s important to keep in mind that it’s only a test, it’s still nice to be recognized for doing well on it. After Rockhurst I plan on going to college, but where or what I want to study is completely in the air. I’m not exactly sure on what I’m planning to do or where I want to go, but I know I’ll likely be going out of the Midwest. My favorite things are the people inside of the school, and the teachers I’ve had in my four years. There are so many people I’ve met that I hope to stay in touch with outside of high school. I’ve been in the Chess Club, the Rock Collection, the Prep News (our school newspaper), and soccer my freshman year."
Braden Schleicher on his National Merit Semifinalist selection: "Being named a National Merit Semifinalist came as an honor. This recognition encourages me for whatever may lie ahead. The scholarship opportunities from the National Merit program are important, as they could open up doors to schools across the country I might not have considered. After Rockhurst, I plan on going off to a college where I will have the opportunity to discover what I want to do beyond school. In my time at Rockhurst, I have been challenged academically and given a place to meet new people. I have enjoyed pep rallies, retreats, mission weeks, and all the moments with friends. On top of that, the debate team has been a great experience as well as a chance for growth, both mentally and socially."
Thomas Tietjen on his National Merit Semifinalist selection: "I am so honored to have been selected as a National Merit Semifinalist not only because of the prestige associated with this award, but also because of the opportunity to represent Rockhurst, my home away from home. I am blessed to be in the company of the four other recipients who were also recognized for this award. I am still discerning both my college and professional aspirations, but I know that I would love to give back to my Jesuit education in some manner, either as an educator or a lifelong advocate for Jesuit formation. One of my favorite aspects of Rockhurst is the incorporation of Jesuit principles in each subject of the curriculum. While these teachings certainly have their place in theology classes, Rockhurst educators repeatedly strive to connect these lessons to our own beliefs, relationships, and identities. As students, we are able to 'see God in all things' by exercising these practices every day both in and out of school. These concepts were evident to me while working with the Hurtado Scholars Program over the past three years, and I look forward to applying these same beliefs as the captain of the Rockhurst Swim & Dive team and as one of the Co-Chairs for the 2021 Freshman Retreat. I have also enjoyed serving as an attorney on the Rockhurst Mock Trial team and as Class President during my Freshman and Sophomore years. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to attend Rockhurst High School. I would like to thank my parents for the sacrifices made so that I might attend such an influential institution and for stressing the importance of using my gifts to serve others. I would also like to thank all of my past and present teachers for their dedication to their vocation. Many of them have been my role models over the past four years and nurtured the very principles I was taught by my parents which include hard work, delayed gratification, and kindness to others. I will truly cherish these relationships for my entire life."