National Merit Semifinalists

Four Upper St. Clair High School seniors were named Semifinalists in the 2019 National Merit Scholarship Competition. The following students scored in the top 1 percent of all juniors completing the PSAT in October 2017: Reese Benonis, Samuel Ding, Serena Luo and Grace Wagner.

Students enter the National Merit Scholarship Program by taking the PSAT – the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test – during the fall of their junior year. Of the nearly 1.6 million entrants, the top one percent (approximately 16,000 students) qualify as Semifinalists.

The Upper St. Clair Semifinalists have the opportunity to continue in the competition for some 7,500 National Merit Scholarships that will be offered next spring. To be considered for a Merit Scholarship award, semifinalists must submit a detailed scholarship application that highlights academic record, participation in school and community activities, demonstrated leadership abilities, employment, and honors and awards received.

National Merit Finalists will be named in February 2019, followed by the National Merit Scholars in the spring. The program awards three types of National Merit Scholarships – 2,500 National Merit Scholarships of $2,500; approximately 1,000 corporate-sponsored Merit Scholarships; and 4,000 college-sponsored Merit Scholarships.

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PMEA selections

Seventeen Upper St. Clair High School students have been selected through competitive audition to participate the 2018 Pennsylvania Music Educators Association District 1 Honors Band, Choir and Orchestra.

Eight students were accepted to participate in the Honors Band Festival that is scheduled for Nov. 10, 17 and 18 at North Hills and Bethel Park high schools. Upper St. Clair participants include: Shane Bowman, grade 11, percussion; Anna Cancilla, grade 9, clarinet; Phoebe Chen, grade 9, flute; Stephen Halpner, grade 10, percussion; Justin Pacella, grade 11, euphonium; Nick Pacella, grade 10, percussion; Rick Sen, grade 11, trumpet; Henry Zou, grade 10, oboe.

Four Upper St. Clair students were selected to this year’s Honors Choir, which will be held Oct. 26-27, at Baldwin-Whitehall High School. Vocalists include: Maddie Bruno, grade 9, soprano 2; Kailtlyn Cloughterty, grade 9, alto 1; Eliza Glunt, grade 10, soprano 1; Anna Gresh, grade 10, alto 2

Five orchestra members successfully auditioned for the Honors Orchestra Festival, which is set for Nov. 17-18 at Fox Chapel Area High School. Upper St. Clair students include: Paige Copenhaver, grade 9, viola; Mallika Matharu, grade 12, cello; Joe W. Phillips, grade 9, cello; Jason Zhang, grade 10, violin; Veronica Zhang, grade 10, violin.

National Merit Commended status

Sixteen Upper St. Clair High School seniors were recently recognized as Commended Students in the 2019 National Merit Scholarship Program.

Brooke Christiansen, Nicholas Devlin, Miles Friedman, Mattigan J. Fultineer, Arushi Khaitan, Jacqueline R. LeKachman, Mallika Matharu, Caroline M. McDonough, Anh-Duy Nguyen, Ritik Parmar, Neha K. Patel, Hridhay S. Reddy, Vikram Reddy, Tushar K. Roy, Lauren Wholey and Aochen Zhang scored in the top three percent of more than 1.6 million students who completed the 2017 Preliminary SAT, the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test.

These 16 Upper St. Clair seniors join about 34,000 Commended Students throughout the nation who are being recognized for their exceptional academic promise.

National Merit scholarship


Nadith A. Dharmasena, a member of the Upper St. Clair High School Class of 2018, has earned a National Merit Pennsylvania State University Scholarship. He intends to study computer science at Penn State-University Park in State College this fall.

This marks the third Upper St. Clair High School student to receive a college-sponsored Merit Scholarship this year. In June, it was announced that Michael R. Hrehocik and Spencer C. Miller earned scholarships to Rochester Institute of Technology and the University of Chicago, respectively.

In addition, graduated senior Sahil B. Doshi was named a National Merit $2,500 Scholarship recipient – one of only 2,500 in the country. Sahil will be attending Northwestern University in Evanson, Ill., this fall where he plans to major in biomedical engineering.

Distinguished school

Boyce Middle School, located in the Upper St. Clair School District, is one of 158 schools to be recognized as a Title I Distinguished School in the 2018-19 school year by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, Division of Federal Programs.

Each year, the Division of Federal Programs honors the top performing Title I schools in Pennsylvania. There are two designations: Reward for High Achievement and Reward for High Progress. High Achievement recognizes the highest 5 percent of Title I schools based on aggregate math and reading PSSA or Keystone scores that also met all Annual Measurable Objectives. High Progress recognizes the highest 5 percent of Title I schools based on a composite of the math and English Language Arts Pennsylvania Value Added Assessment System (PVAAS) indices for the schools. Schools also met participation and graduation/attendance AMOs.

Title I schools receive supplemental federal funding to bridge the gap between economically disadvantaged students, as determined by free and reduced lunch, and other students.

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