Two Quakertown Community High School seniors have been recognized by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation for their exceptional academic promise.
Avinash Paul qualified as a semifinalist in the prestigious program for 2022 while Avadar Brownlee achieved the status of a Commended Student.
Students entered the National Merit Scholarship Program, a nationwide competition for recognition and awards conducted by National Merit Scholarship Corporation, by taking the 2020 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test offered in October 2020 and January 2021. Of the more than 1.6 million students who took the exam, the 50,000 highest scorers are being recognized. Approximately 16,000 of those high performers were recently designated National Merit Scholarship Semifinalists. The next 34,000 achieve Commended Student status.
Avinash represents less than 1 percent of U.S. high school seniors. His remarkable 1490 score on the 2020 Preliminary SAT gives him the opportunity to continue in the competition for some 7,500 National Merit Scholarships worth nearly $30 million that will be offered next spring. Avadar scored 1400 on the PSAT, just outside of the top 1 percent.
“Both Avinash and Avadar are outstanding students, and I’m very proud of both of them for tremendous accomplishments,” Principal Mattias van’t Hoenderdaal said. “Their achievements are a testament to their hard work, and the outstanding job our teachers are doing in the classroom. During their high school years, these students have challenged themselves with college-level courses to help them discover their interests and develop their skillsets. Both are fine examples for our students to follow.”
Avinash, who has a 4.2 GPA, scored 1590 out of a possible 1600 on his SAT. “I was one math question away,” he said.
Avinash has lofty goals. He’s applied to Amherst, Brown, Colgate, Haverford, Penn State, Vassar and William & Mary. Whichever school he attends will have accepted him into its accelerated medical program, he said.
“I’m not sure what kind of doctor I’ll be,” he said, “but I want to study neuroscience.”
Avadar’s list of classes allows no time for senioritis. She is taking six AP classes this year: Environmental Science, Computer Science Principles, Calculus BC, European History, Government and Literature. By the end of the school year, she will have completed 14 college-level courses in her time at QCHS.
“Picking classes in subjects you have an interest in, even if it’s hard, helps you stay motivated,” she said. “If you enjoy learning, it makes it a lot easier.
“I really appreciate having been given the opportunity to explore my own interests and still have rigorous classes. I’ve had options to take multiple math and history APs. I’ve taken elective business classes to explore specific business topics. Even if it’s something you end up not liking, I figure at least I know I don’t want to take that in college.”
And speaking of life after QCHS, Avadar is including some well-known names in her college applications. The list included Tufts, Boston College, Princeton (her mom is an alumna, “It’s my dream school.”) and Yale (“maybe even more of a reach.”)
Since taking the qualifying test, Avadar’s scores have risen. She recently reached 1500 on the SAT. Her current GPA is 4.3.
In recent years, QCHS has been well represented by National Merit Scholars who advanced from semifinalist to finalist. Last year it was Michael Dennis. In 2020 it was Melissa Nong. The prior year Mikayla Fuentes and Adria Retter each achieved the rare designation.
Each year, students who just missed the semifinalist level received a Letter of Commendation for their outstanding performance on the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. Last year, Matt Catalano and Veronika Durr each received a letter. In 2020, Ian Cummings, Tyler Einolf and Sierra Lee, each received a letter. In 2019, Nam Le and Hailey Reiss were commendable.