The 2017-18 Rockhurst High School National Merit Semifinalists are pictured with Rev. William Sheahan, SJ, interim president (left) and Mr. Gregory Harkness, principal (right).  The seniors, from left to right: Andrew Connor, Wyatt Pelton, Anthony Cordes, Drake Rebman, Max Connor, Benjamin Coates, Minh Nguyen and Rory Reidy.

National Merit Semifinalists Selected  

This week, eight senior Hawklets were announced as National Merit Semifinalists.  They are: Benjamin Coates, Andrew Connor, Max Connor, Anthony Cordes, Minh Nguyen, Wyatt Pelton, Drake Rebman and Rory Reidy.

Approximately 1.5 million high school students took the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT) and around 50,000 earned the highest index score to qualify for National Merit Scholarship Program acknowledgment.

Of those top students, less than two-thirds, or about 16,000, are then named as Semifinalists. 

Looking forward to February, some 15,000 Semifinalists will be notified that they have been selected to Finalist standing. 

Here is a little bit more about each of the Rockhurst National Merit Semifinalists from the Class of 2018.

Benjamin Coates

Benjamin believes that the National Merit Semifinalist selection recognizes his dedication and hard work over his time at Rockhurst, as well as those teachers who helped him reach this achievement.  He has not not yet decided on which college he wishes to attend, he would like to go into the field of Engineering - more specifically into the careers of Chemical or Materials Science Engineering.

Benjamin's favorite things about Rockhurst are: his fellow students and the support everyone has for one another, as well as the many different learning opportunities and spaces provided by the school.

Andrew Connor

Andrew says that being a National Merit Semifinalist signifies all of the hard work that he has put in over the past three years here at Rockhurst.  After graduating from Rockhurst, he would like to study Engineering, hopefully at the University of Norte Dame, and long-term, he would like to be an engineer.

Andrew's favorite thing about Rockhurst is the competition between students.  It really pushes him to stay motivated during the school year and be able to accomplish what he wants to with other students.  Andrew was a top runner on last year's State Championship cross country team.

Max Connor

Max says while he certainly appreciates the prestige of being a National Merit Semifinalist, it has a deep personal meaning to him in that it simply represents the success he can accomplish when he sets high goals and works to achieve them.  Rockhurst provided an educational environment in which the opportunities were ample, but success was never easily earned.  Throughout his countless late nights of study, mixed with rigorous work in the classroom, all these efforts finally culminated to show him that if he put in the necessary work, anything is possible. 

He has not decided on a college, but is very interested in studying either Business or International Business.

Max's favorite thing about RHS is the unique atmospsphere that dwells in Rockhurst.  It feels as though he is in a place that everybody is glad to attend and proud to represent.  He is also a huge fan of the crazy amount of dedication that each and every member of the staff posses, which in turn, creates several opporitunies to both learn and enjoy school.

Anthony Cordes

Anthony believes that being named a National Merit Semifinalist is an incredible opportunity for himself, as well as the other Semifinalists to receive generous financial aid from those colleges and institutions that support it.  After graduating from Rockhurst, he intends on going to college to study Engineering, but has not yet decided on a college. 

Anthony's  favorite thing about Rockhurst is simply the people.  He says he doesn't know if there is any other place that has all of the incredible students, teachers, and faculty that can be found here at Rockhurst.

Minh Nguyen

For Minh, the National Merit Semifinalist selection means a lot, since he can be proud of his own accomplishments, especially in the core subjects in which he excels.  He has a feeling that he be attending the University of California, San Diego. Minh says he is definitely going to at least minor in Music, with his major being something along the lines of Computer Engineering or something having to do with Math or Chemistry.  His career will be centered around whatever major he chooses, but will always come back to music as a hobby.

Minh's favorite thing about Rockhurst is that a student can be in co-curriculars and have a busy schedule, and still be acknowledged for his intellect.  He participates in the Chamber Choir at Rockhurst, as well as having a few other outside-of-school activities such as his Church's choir and Boy Scouts.  But when everything is taken into consideration, he still does well in school, and this shows him that Rockhurst is a place where both academics and co-curriculars can coexist.

Wyatt Pelton

Wyatt says he knew a few seniors last year who were National Merit Semifinalists, then eventually Finalists, and he had a lot of respect for those guys. He is honored to have the opportunity to be placed in the same category as them.  He is still working on his college plans for next year,  but is leaning toward a major in Math, Engineering, or Physics.  He is drawn to Aeronautical and Electrical Engineering, and his long-term plans include a graduate degree in either Engineering or Law.

Wyatt's favorite thing about Rockhurst is the sense of brotherhood that exists across Rockhurst.  He says it seems everyone shares a desire to help each other succeed.  He has enjoyed his hours at the Student Success Center and has found that it's a great way to be a part of Rockhurst's cooperative culture. Most importantly, he notes, he has loved his teachers who have created an environment to explore, debate, and express. 

Drake Rebman

Drake says that being a National Merit Semifinalist is a testament to how rigorous Rockhurst is and how great the teachers are​; it is a great honor to have been selected as a Semifinalist, but he knows that his education at Rockhurst is what earned the distinction.  He has an idea that he want to study Classics or Economics, but thinks he will truly be able to decide once he actually starts taking classes in each field.

Drake's favorite things about Rockhur​s​t is being able to participate in activities that he likes, and being able to study the things that he wants to study.  He says that many other schools don't have Mock trial or Debate programs, and it's a privilege to be able to compete and grow through these two programs.  Similarly, at most schools he wouldn't be able to study Ancient Greek at all, or to be the only one in his Greek 2 class.  Drake says Rockhurst has been very flexible in allowing him to pursue what he wants to pursue.

Rory Reidy

Rory says that, to him, being selected as one of the senior class' eight National merit Semifinalists means that he has mat a certain standard in his academics and standardized testing.  He says that he has not yet decided on a college or major, but looks forward to using this year as a time to do more research and visit some potential schools.

Rory's favorite thing about Rockhurst has been the great teachers and academic opportunities to help him get to where he is today.

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