" Clearly, there are the lessons that are in our textbooks, like algebra, chemistry and Spanish. But at RZJHS, we also learned essential midot, or values, such as diligence and morality, that you can’t find in a textbook."
By Steve Sadin
Nineteen local high school seniors were named National Merit Scholarship semifinalists Sept. 10, putting them in upper echelon of all people who applied for the award based on the results of the standardized test all entrants take.
There were nine semifinalists from Highland Park High School, eight from Deerfield and two from Chicagoland Jewish High School in Deerfield, which has approximately a tenth of the enrollment of the two bigger institutions.
CJHS has 38 seniors, according to Communications Director Tara Seymour. Highland Park has 551 and Deerfield 428, according to Township High School District 113 Communications Director Jennie Waldorf.
There were approximately 16,000 semifinalists throughout the country, according to a release from the National Merit Scholarship Corporation.
Making the grade from Highland Park are Anna Fox, Justin Garfinkle, Samantha Glickman, Martin Gold, Jasmine Kerber, Eli Lipsitz, Jack McGuire, Claire Rafson and Gabriel Wexler.
Deerfield semifinalists are Joseph Bloom, Hannah Firestone, Brandon Ho, Ari Lackner, Dean Li, Michael Miller, Hannah Sugarman and Jonathan Wexler.
Isaac Johnston of Chicago and Jonah Glick-Unterman of Evanston were the winners from CJHS.
Township High School District 113 Superintendent George Fornero said he considers the performance on the standardized test, which could lead to a scholarship, one of many successes Highland Park and Deerfield students accomplish.
“Deerfield and Highland Park High School students accomplish great things in all areas, and this is a wonderful academic success story,” Fornero said. “We are so proud of the dedication to education shown by these students and their families, and the commitment of our excellent staff to helping each student succeed.”
At Chicagoland Jewish High School, Academic Dean Bruce Scher said he believes consistent achievements like these are a result of teaching style and student diligence. The school had four semifinalists last year out of a class of 52 and two this year out of 38.
“Our school is always represented well as our curriculum is very strong in the areas of interdisciplinary studies and critical thinking,” Scher said. “Our students are taught to read text with a critical eye and to understand the different perspectives that are often presented in a work. Taking an exam that focuses on critical thinking, close text reading, and problem solving is not unusual for our students.”
More than 1.4 million students took the test as juniors last term in over 22,000 high schools across the country, according to a release from the National Merit Scholarship Corporation. Of those, 16,000 semifinalists were selected representing less than one percent of all seniors.
Should these semifinalists become finalists — about 90 percent do, according to the release — they will be able to compete for 7,600 scholarships worth an aggregate $33 million. To become a finalist, students must file an application detailing their academic record, participation in community activities, employment and honors.
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