National Merit Semifinalists Recognized For Achievements

By Srilekha Cherukuvada, Heritage Copy Editor, Horizon Weekly Editor

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  • Anoushka Asthana '19 poses for a picture with Principal Mario Acosta.

  • Anthony Pham '19 shakes Principal Mario Acosta's hand.

  • National Merit Semifinalists wait for their name to be called.

  • National Merit Semifinalists pose for a group photo.

  • Principal Mario Acosta takes a selfie with the National Merit Semifinalists.

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A total of 57 students were announced as National Merit Semifinalists, and to honor them a ceremony was held Wednesday, Sept. 12 in the small gym at 8 a.m.. In order to qualify as a semifinalist, students in Texas must have scored a selection index score of 221 or higher on the PSAT taken as a junior. Westwood had more qualifying students than eight other states in the U.S. had combined, making this a truly momentous occasion for students.

“It was really nice to see how many people showed up and got the award itself at Westwood,” semifinalist Lily Swank ‘19 said. “You could see a room full of people that definitely worked hard to get there and it was really nice to see superintendent Flores show up when he had five other events to go to, and he chose to go to the Westwood one because he knew how important it was that we had 57 people get the award at one school.”

The morning started off with a light breakfast, including coffee, juice, and pastries, while a big screen in the back displayed the honored students’ baby and current photos. Soon, students took their seats and lead counselor Ms. Holly Browning stepped up to the podium to reveal to the students that the ceremony was in fact to recognize their status as National Merit Semifinalists, as students were only told that the breakfast was for an academic award.

“I felt honored and humbled to receive this distinction from the prestigious National Merit Scholarship Program,” Ruhin Homchowdhury ‘19 said. “I am absolutely enthralled to have access to incredible opportunities that would arise from this occasion.”

Ms. Browning continued on with her speech, praising the students for their hard work and effort. Afterwards, Principal Mario Acosta and superintendent Dr. Steve Flores both spoke shortly, thanking the parents and staff for their support in the students’ achievements.

“The National Merit ceremony and the process itself is really cool because it’s kind of nice to know that there’s 56 other students in this with me,” Avi Saini ‘19 said. “We have such a great population of people who work really hard and really care about their own education and their thoughts and ideas. I think that’s important because it makes our environment more enriching and more diverse and this ceremony just proves that I get to be around those people on a daily basis. I am so grateful that I get to learn more from them and become a better person because of interactions we have and what we share between each other.”

The ceremony ended with each student being called up to shake Mr. Acosta’s hand and getting a professional photo taken. Students also lined up on the risers for a group photo.

A list of all the semifinalists can be found here.