Record number of Gatton students become semifinalists in national merit scholarship competition

Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear has made the decision that Gatton Academy, located on WKU’s campus, will be required to comply with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

Natasha Breu

A record number of Gatton Academy students have been recognized as semifinalists in the 2019 National Merit Scholarship Competition. 

Twenty-one out of 88 seniors who entered the competition their junior year have made it to this round. Students qualify by taking the Preliminary SAT or National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test in October of their junior year. 

The next step is a joint cooperation between the students and Gatton which involves an application outlining the students’ academics and participation in high school. The students must also take the SAT to qualify for the finalist round.

Nationally, about 16,000 students make it to the semifinalist round, and about 15,000 advance to the finalist round, according to the National Merit Scholarship Competition website. Initially, 1.6 million juniors entered. 

The website also states semifinalists are recognized by being the highest scoring entrants of the state that they are from.

Lynette Breedlove, the director of Gatton Academy, said she is extremely proud of the semifinalists. She said it is exciting that these students are a part of Gatton and a part of the WKU community. 

“Having our students recognized through national merit is a wonderful honor and shows the academic accomplishment of our students,” Breedlove said. 

Breedlove said these students are “more than their academics” because they contribute to the community with a wide array of talents, but it’s nice to see them recognized for something they worked hard for.

Wyatt Ringo, a senior originally from Trinity High School in Louisville, said a great education from his preparing high school and support from Gatton was all he really needed to enter the competition. He said being a semifinalist opens up opportunities for other scholarships too.

“The best thing to come out of this is further proof that Gatton is preparing students to exceed wherever they go throughout higher education,” Ringo said. 

Anas Gondal, a senior originally from Danville High School, said he has already had many more scholarship opportunities since becoming a semifinalist. He said to prepare for the competition, he studied one to two hours most days during the summer before he took the PSAT.

According to the National Merit Scholarship Competition website, students find out in February if they have made it to the final round. The winners of the competition will be announced through press releases from April to July.