Top of the Class
KHS boasts National Merit Finalists

merit finalists

All three of King’s National Merit Semifinalists have advanced on to being National Merit Finalists. Seniors (right to left) Ryan Dilts, Gabriella Griffin, and Jillian Hestle are now competing against 15,000 other finalists from across the country for 8,000 merit scholarships worth around $35 million.

To be a National Merit Finalist, a student must score in the top 1% on the PSAT. Other factors are also considered, including SAT scores, high school transcripts, and essay qualifications.

The finalists found out the good news from a letter in the mail a few days before it was announced at Kings High School. “I was excited when I found out, because colleges are still reviewing my applications and this will help me with admissions and scholarships,” Dilts said. 

Hestle found out a few hours earlier than her two peers, but later than a few other schools. “I found out when my mom called me at lunch. She got the letter in the mail, and called me as soon as possible,” Hestle said. “At first I was surprised, because my friend at Lakota East had been told a week before, so I thought I didn’t make it. Then I was elated.”

Many peers supported and congratulated the finalists after the good news was announced. “I got tons of hugs from my friends and many more congratulations in the following weeks,” Hestle said.

Griffin was likewise thrilled when she found out the news. “It was absolutely incredible to advance because it helps me afford my dream college, The University of Chicago, where I’ll be going this fall to major in Earth and Environmental Sciences,” Griffin said.

Although scholarship money varies from school to school, Hestle knows exactly what money she’ll be receiving in college from being a National Merit Finalist. “I get $500 per semester from Purdue,” Hestle said. She plans on majoring in Civil Engineering, specifically hydrology.

Dilts hasn’t yet decided where he will be attending college in the fall, as most of the colleges he applied to don’t release admission decisions until March. “I’m looking at Communications, Women and Gender Studies, and Film Production or studies, but I will hopefully get the chance to explore that more my freshman year,” Dilts said.

Reagan Heck

By Reagan Heck

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