Central Kitsap and Bremerton students recognized as National Merit semi-finalists

They work hard because they like it.

“I actually really like learning — anything,” said Carolyn Harris of Central Kitsap High school.

Four seniors in the Central Kitsap School District and one from the Bremerton School District have been recognized as National Merit semi-finalists. They took the Preliminary SAT as juniors in the fall of 2009 and because of their high scores, are contenders for the National Merit Scholarship. Winners of the $2,500 scholarship will be announced by the National Merit Scholarship Program beginning in February.

Harris, 17, is on the Knowledge Bowl team, Key Club and the National Honor Society.

“It’s a lot of fun to find a use for random knowledge you think you’ll never use,” Harris said of Knowledge Bowl.

Harris enjoys anything that has to do with language including grammar. She has studied German and French in school. She does not know what her ultimate career path will be, but said medical school is her “backup.” Her mom thinks she could be a good surgeon because of her steady hands from jewelry making.

“I feel lucky that this is a school where nerds are kind of cool,” she said.

Mitchell Flaherty of Central Kitsap High School plays soccer for the school’s team as well as for a club team, but especially enjoys freestyle soccer where he practices doing different tricks. Flaherty admits that there is a price to pay for excelling in school.

“If there’s a test the next day, maybe I won’t go to that basketball game or party,” the 18-year-old said. “I miss out on some social aspects, but I think everybody does.”

Knowing his career options are open keeps him motivated in his academics. He hopes to attend a top computer science school and become a computer programmer. But not only that, he just has a love for learning.

“There are really moments I enjoy the lesson,” he said of his computer science and physics classes. “They make you think about things in a different way.”

Ivy Rice of Bremerton High School is in the school’s choir and is part of the Peninsula Dance Theatre. She’s been dancing since she was three and now studies mostly ballet.

“It’s expressive and beautiful,” the 18-year-old explained of dance. “It’s telling a story differently.”

Rice hopes to major in both English and theater in college and to perform or direct stage musicals on Broadway.

“If I have 30 extra minutes, I read in the basement of the studio,” Rice said. “I put in a lot of effort because it’s just necessary.”

Shannon Lubetich attests her motivation to do well in school to her older sister who also went to Central Kitsap High School, and was a salutatorian. “I’ve kind of wanted to slightly show her up,” said the 17-year-old.

Lubetich is a member of the school’s Knowledge Bowl team and treasurer of Key Club. She has also been involved in Destination ImagiNation, a team problem-solving competition, since sixth grade. Currently she and her team are preparing a skit for the regional competition in January.

Aside from her extracurriculars, Lubetich said she and her best friend frequently go to concerts in Seattle on school nights, but added: “I never miss school.”

Lindsey Holdren, 17, of Central Kitsap High School has been playing soccer for 13 years and also takes part in Destination ImagiNation, and painting and drawing classes at Kitsap Art.

“I’m just self-motivated,” Holdren said. “I like learning so I don’t understand people not wanting to put in the effort.”

Holdren wants to try out a couple of different jobs after college including being a filmmaker for National Geographic. She likes studying photography, history and computer science. She added that she does not know what career she will stick with, but knows it won’t be working in a cubicle.

The test scores vary from state to state to determine National Merit semi-finalists, said Chris Swanson, college and career counselor at Bremerton High School. In Washington, the score is 218 for critical reading, math and writing, with a maximum possible score of 240. The National Merit Scholarship Corporation is a nonprofit organization that was established in 1955 to honor academically talented high school students across the country.

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