Decatur Student Named A National Merit Finalist

Decatur Student Named A National Merit Finalist
Grayson Wolf

BERLIN – A Stephen Decatur High School student has advanced to finalist standing in a national scholarship competition.

Earlier this month, the National Merit

Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) issued Certificates of Merit to principals across the country, notifying them of the students who have advanced to finalist standing in the 2020 National Merit Scholarship Program.

Grayson Wolf, a senior at Stephen Decatur, was one of the roughly 15,000 semifinalists named in September to have met all the requirements to advance to finalist standing in the competition.

Wolf was one of more than 1.5 million students in nearly 21,000 high schools to enter the 2020 National Merit Scholarship Program by taking the Preliminary SAT (PSAT) qualifying test in the fall of 2018. And in September, he was named as one of approximately 16,000 semifinalists in the program.

The nationwide pool of semifinalists, representing less than 1% of U.S. high school seniors, includes the highest-scoring entrants in each state. Qualifying scores vary from state to state and from year to year, but the scores of all semifinalists are extremely high.

More than 15,000 students advanced to finalist standing this month. All finalists will now be in the running for National Merit Scholarships.

“It’s pretty much a waiting game at this point,” Wolf said.

Wolf said he learned he had made it to the final round in the competition late last week. He noted, however, that he won’t learn if he’s a scholarship recipient until later this year.

Between March and mid-June, the NMSC notifies approximately 7,600 finalists that they have been selected to receive a Merit Scholarship award.

While Wolf was the only student at Stephen Decatur to be named a finalist this year, two other students, Madison Birckett and Maxwell Ewancio, earned the Commended Scholar title for placing in the top 3% of all test takers.

Since 2012, 17 students from Stephen Decatur have been named Commended Scholars. And last year, student Dana Kim was named a National Merit finalist.

In addition to being named a National Merit finalist, Wolf is an active member of the National Honor Society and Mu Alpha Theta Math Honor Society. He is also captain of the Academic Team and a member of the Science Olympiad team.

Wolf said he plans to attend a four-year college and major in computer science and mathematics and minor in linguistics.

“It’s an interesting field to me,” he said.

Wolf said he has applied to Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University, Princeton University, California Institute of Technology, University of California, Berkeley and Johns Hopkins University, among others.

Wolf also recognized his current and former teachers – specifically Kirsten Danisavich, Sherryl Olson and Mary Berquist – for their support.

“All of my teachers are very important,” he said. “I wouldn’t be anywhere without them, so I would have to thank them.”

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

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Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.