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Two CK students nominated for national scholarship

Central Kitsap High School seniors Christopher Kim (right) and Paige Orwin were semifinalists for the National Merit Scholarship Program. Approximately 16,000 students across the nation were nominated for the honor.  - Photo by Erin Beil
Central Kitsap High School seniors Christopher Kim (right) and Paige Orwin were semifinalists for the National Merit Scholarship Program. Approximately 16,000 students across the nation were nominated for the honor.
— image credit: Photo by Erin Beil

Earning one of the highest honors possible, Central Kitsap High School seniors Christopher Kim and Paige Orwin were selected as semifinalists for the National Merit Scholarship Program.

“I was really surprised,” Orwin said with a smile. “I actually didn’t think I worked that hard.”

To become a finalist for the National Merit Scholarship program, a semifinalist must have an outstanding academic record throughout high school, be endorsed and recommended by the school principal and earn SAT scores that confirm the student’s earlier qualifying test performance.

“I was very surprised (to be selected),” Kim said. “I’m pretty amazed.”

More than 1.4 million juniors in nearly 21,000 high schools across the nation entered the 2008 National Merit Program by taking the 2006 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test which served as an initial screen of program entrants.

The pool of semifinalists who were selected, which represent less than 1 percent of high school seniors in the United States, includes the highest scoring entrants in each state.

“I think it’s an honor for our school to have two finalists,” said CKHS Principal John Cervinsky. “And it’s an honor for them and their families.”

“I think it’s indicative of the education offered here,” Cervinsky added with a smile. “(Students) take advantage of the AP (Advanced Placement) teachers.”

A non-profit organization, the National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) conducts two academic competitions for undergraduate scholarships, which are the National Merit Scholarship Program and the National Achievement Scholarship Program.

Kim, who balances a smorgasbord of activities and AP classes, said he has to catch up when he can, and sleep when he can.

“This year I’m ... taking six AP classes ... and I am on varsity tennis,” he said with a smile, adding that every Monday, Wednesday and Saturday he practices with the band as a percussionist for football halftime shows and competitions. “I do my catch-up when I can ... I knew what I was getting into. All the classes I’m taking are challenging.”

Orwin, who takes three AP classes, said she also is no stranger to the demanding course load they provide.

“I’ve taken three AP courses every year,” she said, adding that she has a rigorous practice schedule like Kim because she also is a member of the CKHS marching band. “When they told me I was (selected as a semifinalist), I thought, ‘Chris must be the other one.’”

The two must now fill out numerous pages of the detailed scholarship application and write an essay on why they should be selected as well as information about their participation and leadership in both CKHS and community activities.

In addition to filling out the Merit Scholarship application, both Orwin and Kim are in the middle of filling out applications for college.

“I’m going to apply early to Stanford,” Kim said with a smile while pointing to his Stanford T-shirt. “Shoot high ... I’m also looking at UW, UC Berkeley and Brown. I want to pursue a degree in English.”

Also hoping to pursue a degree in the field of English, Orwin said she hasn’t narrowed down the college she’s interested in yet.

“The only one I’ve visited is the University of Washington’s medical building,” she added.

Recipients of the Merit Scholarship will be selected based on their academic skills, accomplishments and potential for success in rigorous college studies. The winners of the National Merit Scholarship will be announced in April.

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