The top 3-4% of students are recognized by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation as commended students. Seniors Brandon Garza, Shannon Keyser, Caleb Peterson, Trey Weltens, and Lauryn Woods earned recognition as National Merit Commended students this year. They finished in the top 50,000 out of 1.5 million students taking the PSAT.
“Being in the top percentile doesn’t matter as much to me as knowing I reached the level to receive that recognition,” Shannon said. “It’s satisfying to know that I achieved the scores needed to gain this recognition rather than beating other people out.”
Each students had different ways of practicing for the PSAT that ranged from working on Khan Academy to doing extra prep classes.
“I did a summer prep program at the school and I had some great teachers throughout my years of school in English and math,” Brandon Garza said.
The school provides opportunities to help students build their skills for both the PSAT and SAT. The faculty and district have tried their best to accommodate all situations that could hinder a student’s success for college.
“We have done multiple things throughout the years, ranging from after school and before school ‘help’ sessions, Saturday sessions, and now working towards providing that assistance during a class period in the school day,” principal Lane Buban said. “I think that the more ways we can offer these preparatory sessions, we can provide a wider variety of opportunities for our students to get help with this test. With that being said, I am always open to new ideas from students as to how to accommodate their needs and busy schedules.”
Earning the recognition as a commended student takes hard work and dedication.
“Students should make sure that they challenge themselves in their classes,” Caleb Peterson said. “They should study for their tests and work on increasing their verbal and math skills.”
Some students acknowledge that they should have taken a different approach to the test and encourage other students to put in the work ahead of time.
“I know I could have done better if I would’ve studied,” Trey said. “I might have earned a scholarship if I would’ve taken it a little more seriously in advance.”
Some had problems to overcome and knew what they needed to do to make sure they were successful.
“I did two hours of tutoring a week all summer,” Lauryn Woods said. “I have a pretty significant diagnosis of attention deficit disorder, so learning how to focus and be able to follow an essay all the way through was a really hard process for me. I had to work on that a lot because I was trying get for scholarships for college.”
Although not every student has access to a tutor for 2 hours a week, Lauryn has a rubric on what strengths and weaknesses to work on.
“If you’re a language arts kid, study high level math because they’re going to test you on things you haven’t learned yet,” Lauryn Woods said. “Study a little bit of geometry and a little bit of calculus and try to get ahead. If you’re a math kid learn how to read faster and increase your vocabulary.”
Buban and other faculty are proud of achievements of students on the PSAT as well as other areas.
“We have very talented students on this campus and it’s nice to see them be recognized,” Buban said. “Beyond that, I think it validates what we are trying to achieve here, which is to provide a high quality education.”