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Updated 2 hours ago
Three Pine-Richland High School students have been named as National Merit Scholarship finalists.
The three seniors — Richard Kwon, Joshua Pantanowitz and Kendall Pomerleau — received notification this month and are eligible for $2,500 scholarships from the organization.
“I was very excited. It's a big deal because I work hard during school to try my best and to see that pay off is really rewarding,” Pomerleau, 18, said.
The students' Preliminary SAT, or PSAT, test scores — a test taken in high school prior to the SAT — qualified them for the honor. The National Merit Scholarship Corp. annually screens how 1.6 million U.S. high schoolers score on their qualifying version of the PSAT. The non-profit organization recognizes 50,000 top scorers each year; NMSC then narrows that number to 15,000 finalists.
“I was so excited and proud, of course,” said Heidi Pantanowitz, Joshua's mother. “We're waiting to hear [about scholarships].”
All three students are involved in high-level academic courses and several extracurricular activities. Kwon serves as the executive treasurer of the student government, participates in the debate club, volunteers at UPMC Passavant and is enrolled in honors and advanced placement science and math classes.
“I'm more of a science person,” said Kwon. “So I really like my anatomy class.”
Kwon is currently saving up money to visit family in South Korea for two months this summer, then plans to attend college for pre-med.
Pantanowitz plays the piano and the ukelele, takes several honors and A.P. classes and also participates in student government. He said he studied hard for the PSAT exam.
“I did all the practice tests and part of the preparation was always paying attention in class and taking good notes, making sure I understood everything,” Pantanowitz said.
He will attend the University of Pittsburgh in the fall to major in pre-med. He said he's thinking about becoming a cardiologist in the future.
But, his mom Heidi says, “He's an outstanding pianist. He could do that for a career he's so good.”
Pomerleau will appear in Pine-Richland's upcoming school musical, plays the viola, serves as president of the school's model United Nations club, and is learning Java programming.
“It's probably one of my favorite classes,” she said. “I'm also taking an online linear algebra class through Johns Hopkins for college credit.”
Pomerleau has been accepted to several universities but has not made her final decision about where she will study computer science and dance.
Ashley Murray is a Tribune-Review contributor.
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