Majority of national merit semi-finalists also involved in STEM program


Allie Gruszkiewicz

Lauren Pearman and Ben Rappoport are both involved in Bearden’s STEM program.

Madison Tenney, Staff Writer

Earlier this month, the National Merit semi-finalists were announced. Nine students were recognized, and five of them are currently taking part in Bearden’s STEM program: seniors Eli Derrington, Lauren Pearman, Ben Rappoport, Karolina Simcic, and Allie Gruszkiewicz.

STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and math. It is a program in which students take part in understanding and learning about science at a deeper level.

Throughout the year, students take part in a single research project to which they are assigned. They do extensive research and conduct experiments on this one topic so they will learn how to transition from high school level material to applying their knowledge at a college level.

While the STEM program appears to be closely related to the chosen semi-finalists, STEM teacher Mrs. Jillian Miller said this is not the case. In fact, the students in the program hadn’t even been assigned their research topics when they learned of their National Merit status.

Mrs. Miller did mention, however, that the program helps with test-taking and answering questions that might ask more of a student.

“We do a lot of problem-solving and research, tools that might be used to answer the questions on the SAT,” Mrs. Miller said.

Even though STEM isn’t a contributing factor in the National Merit decision making, both things do have a common theme.

In order to get into either, there are requirements that students must meet. To be accepted into the STEM program, a student must have the required GPA average, and they also look into a student’s participation in the school and in classes.

However, students like Derrington, Gruszkiewicz, Pearman, Simcic, and Rappoport were in the STEM program and were semi-finalists.

While Gruszkiewicz was honored to be chosen and has enjoyed STEM so far, she didn’t feel as if she really did anything else in preparation.

However, Pearman felt as though she had worked hard for this, and that although she had already known that her test averages met the requirements, she still felt as if she had put a lot of work into both the program and being recognized.

“It’s a relief when I got my scores I knew that I probably met the requirements, but I still had doubt,” Pearman said.

Like Pearman, Rappoport also felt as though he had worked for this. He wanted to take advantage of higher education opportunities as much as possible.

“I was proud,” Rappoport said. “I’d been working towards it, so it’s definitely nice to know that I’ve got a certificate that says I actually did accomplish that.”

Although both STEM and National Merit aren’t directly related to each other, both are programs in which these students have taken advantage of and have obviously benefited.