Stone Bridge Students Succeed Through the PSAT

Sravani Sunkara, Staff Writer

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This year, Stone Bridge has four semifinalists in the running to be finalists and possible recipients of the National Merit Scholarship Program’s $2,000 of scholarship money. Out of the 464 Stone Bridge juniors who took the PSAT last year, there were 18 students who were Commended Students, and just four of these students are semifinalists.

“Just the recognition along with the scholarship money is pretty major, and from students’ perspectives, the colleges they will apply to will see the scores,” Director of Guidance Tim Lucas said.

The four semifinalists are Julie Shorey, Cody Kim, Owen Poisson, and William Helmrath.

“Last year, there were no semifinalists at Stone Bridge, so four for us, as a Loudoun County high school, is pretty impressive,” Mr. Lucas noted.

Students say the environment at Stone Bridge has contributed to the their success, as it offers many useful resources and a supportive environment.

“With the help of my amazing English teachers, I’ve improved significantly on the English section of the PSAT, and when I took a prep class, it was as if I was taking it for the second time, since I’d learned so many of the concepts in my English classes,” Kim said.

Shorey, Helmrath, and Poisson all feel the school is a safe and welcoming environment where they are pushed to do their best and said that factor contributed to their success in the national merit process.

Despite feeling relatively good about the test after they took it and taking the test seriously, Shorey, Helmrath, and Poisson said they weren’t expecting their scores to be as great as they were.

“I wasn’t expecting to do as well as I did; I did my best, and it happened to be great,” Poisson said.

These students’ experiences have majorly contributed to their success in school as well as in the National Merit process.

“My semifinalist essay was about competitive dance, and even if it’s not academic, it’s helped me so much, whether it was teaching me responsibility or perseverance and persistence,” Shorey said. She continued to explain how dance has significantly impacted her life as well as her academic career.

Colleges pay attention to things like standardized test scores and it is encouraged that students take them seriously and understand all of the benefits that can come out of them.

“You can get a good GPA by kissing up to your teachers, but you can’t fake a standardized test,” Kim said. “Colleges know that school difficulties vary, so the one direct comparison they can make between applicants is the PSAT, SAT, or ACT,” Kim added.

The National Merit program offers both practice for the SAT and a chance to get recognition and scholarship money for the students who take it. It is a very good opportunity to stand out to colleges and universities, and the students who take it seriously will get benefits out it.