Wednesday, February 11, 2009

SLPS News Release National Merit Scholarship Finalists

Press Release


February 9, 2009 (314) 345-2367

STUDENTs Recognized for outstanding academics

Five SLPS Students from Metro and Gateway named National Merit Scholarship Finalists

ST. LOUIS, MO, February 9, 2009 – Recently the National Merit Scholarship Corporation announced five students from the St. Louis Public Schools District have advanced to the final round of the National Merit Scholarship Program. These students will be competing for the coveted title of National Merit Scholar and for some 8,200 National Merit® Scholarships, worth more than $35 million, that will be offered next spring.

William “Will” Donnelly will be completing Gateway Institute of Technology’s Electrical Engineering program and graduating high school in only three years. To accomplish such a feat, Donnelly has taken seven Advanced Placement courses which earned him recognition as an Advanced Placement Scholar with Honors, and finished courses in English 3 through the virtual school, and Calculus through the University of Missouri. As part of his extracurricular activities Donnelly has participated in FIRST Robotics for the past three years, winning the FIRST Tech Challenge 2008 Connect Award, and plays percussion with the Meramec Symphony Orchestra, serving as First Chair Percussion. In addition, Donnelly attended the Missouri Scholars Academy during the 2007-2008 school year. Upon graduation, Donnelly plans to attend college and major in Electrical Engineering, specifically control systems because he believes it will give a firm grounding in the way current technologies work and allow a strong basis for which future technologies can be developed.

Clara Dahmer, a senior at Metro Academic and Classic Academy, is a talented student who never takes the easy way out. She has taken a combination of Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate courses that comprise her course load, including, AP World History, AP European History, IB Biology, IB History of Americas, IB Math Studies, and IB French. Dahmer also participates in volleyball, National Honor Society, Bible Study, Venturing Club, Scouting for Food, and volunteers at a local food pantry. Dahmer also enjoys writing, and her English teacher describes her as, “a creative thinker with a probing and insightful mind.” She is interested in attending the University of Chicago, University of Missouri, Truman State University, Wash U, Davidson, Vanderbilt, Northwestern, Illinois Wesleyan or Wheaton.

Zachery Gannam, a 16-year-old senior at Metro Academic and Classic Academy, is destined for great things. As a freshman Zachery earned notoriety for scoring a 32 on the ACT and continues to succeed. Currently he is an International Baccalaureate Diploma candidate and is an accomplished musician. Through self teaching, Gannam has learned to play the piano and tuba which has allowed him to win many awards through his participation with the Metro Concert Band, the Scottish Rite Youth Wind Ensemble and the Metro Brass Quintet. In addition Zach is active in scouting, serves as a Patrol Leader and has earned recognition as a Gold Star Scout. He is a leader with a great sense of humor and plans to attend either MIT, the University of Chicago, Washington University or Rensselaer Poly Tech.

Joseph Peraud, a senior at Metro Academic and Classic Academy, has clearly defined expectations. Upon graduation Peraud hopes to study acting, philosophy and psychology at the University of Southern California, Northwestern, Loyola-Chicago, University of Notre Dame or New York University. Because of his interest in theatre Peraud has written four plays and assumed eight roles (four leads) in student-run drama productions. He also expands his knowledge through a variety of activities including Tai-Chi class, film club, Amnesty International at Metro, music ministry, video production, philosophy, soccer, piano, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, bass guitar and the synthesizer. In addition, he can speak French and is teaching himself Italian.

Yan Zhu, a thriving freshman at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, left Metro Academic and Classic Academy after her junior year with a 4.0 GPA because of her admission to MIT. Zhu’s intelligence is exceptional and exemplified through her 35 ACT score and 800 SAT scores in Writing, Math 2 and Physics, even though she had only begun Metro’s physics class when she took the exam. During her time with Metro she was designated an AP Scholar and elected both AP and IB Classes. In addition she took calculus at SLU during her time at Metro, earning “A’s” and recognition from her professor as the best math student he had in years. Zhu played in the Metro concert band and received many accolades and awards, which she continues today at MIT. Because of her strong connection still to Metro, Zhu continues to keep in touch with the school through her MIT blog.

Finalists in the 2009 National Merit Scholarship Program represent less than 1 percent of U.S. high school seniors, and are identified by an outstanding academic record throughout high school, must be endorsed and recommended by his/her high school principal, and earn SAT scores that confirm the student’s earlier performance on the qualifying test. In addition, the student and a high school official must submit a detailed scholarship application, which includes the student’s self-descriptive essay and information about the student’s participation and leadership in school and community activities.

National Merit Scholarship winners of 2009 will be announced in four nationwide news releases beginning in April and concluding in July. These scholarship recipients will join more than 259,000 other distinguished young people who have earned the Merit Scholar title since inception in 1955.



Patrick Wallace, APR

Executive Director of Communications

St. Louis Public Schools

Office: (314) 345-2227

Cell: (314) 420-5782

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