HANCOCK COUNTY — Most high schools have a few students who rise to the top of their class each year, outperforming peers, acing assessments and exceeding expectations. And this school year, local educators say they’re seeing a few more of those high-achievers than they’re used to.
Four Hancock County High School seniors recently were recognized as semifinalists for the National Merit Honor Scholarship, which puts them in the running for coveted scholarships to high-ranking colleges. Students qualify for the program based on their PSAT scores.
Statewide, 342 students were selected as semifinalists. About 90 percent of those students are expected to become finalists, according to the National Merit Scholarship Corp. To become a finalist, semifinalists must submit official SAT scores and write an essay detailing their experiences in high school and plans for the future.
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Greenfield-Central High School claims three of the four local semifinalists. They are Tommy Hembree, Noah Hite and Sydney Huber. The fourth is Brian Bozymski of Mt. Vernon High School.
Until recently, all of the Greenfield-Central students shared the same daily homeroom period.
Hembree, who plans to study biomedical engineering at Purdue University or University of Kentucky, said it was during that time that he and the other two students would catch up and encourage one another to excel.
“We’ve definitely fed off of each other,” Hembree said. “I’m pretty competitive, so it really pushed me to work a lot harder after seeing how well (Huber and Hite) were doing with their work.”
Huber and Hite both plan to attend Indiana University in Bloomington.
Hite plans to study either human biology or biochemistry. From there, he said he hopes to go on to medical school at Johns Hopkins University or Harvard University.
Huber said she hopes to explore her interests at IU, most likely pursuing a field of study in the earth sciences.
Kim Kile, high school guidance director, said she was pleasantly surprised to see three students qualify for the prestigious program this year. Typically, she sees only one or two students who qualify as semifinalists each year, she said.
“It’s a banner year for us,” Kile said. “It’s remarkable to see these students rise above, and they certainly deserve the recognition.”
Bozymski plans to study physics and mathematics at IU in the fall. He said he hopes to become a medical physicist. Ideally, he said, he’d like to work in a hospital, conducting research on nuclear science, which would involve working with cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy.
Martha Sands, guidance director at Mt. Vernon High School, said she’s pleased that Bozymski’s hard work hasn’t gone unnoticed.
“Brian has always gone above and beyond what’s required of him. He’s taken challenging courses. He’s been active with student organizations. He’s just a great, well-rounded student,” Sands said. “It’s good to see him getting some appreciation for all of that.”
National Merit Scholarship Finalists will be announced in February.