The Wentzville School District is proud to announce that Jasper Pendino and Sarah Sargent from Holt High School, and Rishi Kondapaneni from Liberty High School have all been selected as Semifinalists in the 64th Annual National Merit Scholarship Program. In addition, Charles Stone from Holt High School, Zachary Myers from Liberty High School, and Nathaniel Beattie from Timberland High School, have all been named Commended Students in the prestigious national program.
Pendino, Sargent and Kondapaneni are among 16,000 academically talented U.S. high school seniors who now have the opportunity to continue in the competition for over 7,500 National Merit Scholarships, worth more than $31 million, that will be awarded next spring. The nationwide pool of semifinalists includes the highest-scoring entrants in each state, and represents less than 1% of all high school seniors. Merit Scholar designees are selected on the basis of their skills, accomplishments, and potential for success in rigorous college studies. Additionally, Stone, Myers and Beattie are among 34,000 Commended Students throughout the nation who are being recognized for their exceptional academic promise. Commended Students placed among the top 5% of more than 1.6 million students who entered the 2019 competition by taking the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test in 2017.
“We are exceptionally proud of these students who have been named Semifinalists and Commended Students in the National Merit Scholarship Program,” said Superintendent Dr. Curtis Cain. “Their accomplishments will certainly broaden their opportunities, and I commend them for their hard work as well as our outstanding educators who have supported them along their educational journeys toward success.”
Jasper Pendino has a 4.29 GPA and scored a 34 on the ACT. He currently serves as vice president of Holt’s German Club and was named an AP Scholar with Distinction. He also was selected to attend Missouri Scholars Academy. He plans to attend Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio and major in Psychology.
Sarah Sargent currently has a 4.29 GPA and scored a 33 on the ACT. She is a member of the National Honor Society and Link Crew, and has served as the president of Holt’s German Club for the past two years. She attended Missouri Scholars Academy and has been named to the National Society of High School Scholars. Sarah enjoys riding horses and hopes to attend the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania to study business or finance management.
Rishi Kondapaneni currently has a 4.5 GPA, has scored a 35 on the ACT, and is ranked first in his class at Liberty. He serves as the vice president of the National Honor Society and is the public relations officer for HOSA. He has been a member of Student Council for three years and has also served as that group’s public relations officer. Rishi has played varsity tennis for four years, serves as captain of the Scholar Bowl team, and is a member of the Ping Pong Club. He has attended Missouri Boys State and Missouri Scholars Academy. Rishi also enjoys playing piano, and is a third degree black belt in taekwondo. In 2013, he placed third overall at the Yong Moo Kwan World Invitational Tournament in Chicago, Illinois. He hopes to attend Stanford University or the University of Michigan and major in Biology/Pre-med.
To become finalists, the semifinalists must submit an extensive scholarship application that includes a strong academic record and an account of their participation in school and community activities, leadership abilities, employment and any honors or awards. About 90% of the semifinalists are expected to be named finalists, and about half of the finalists will win a National Merit Scholarship.