Bearden’s National Merit Semifinalists succeed in and out of the classroom


Julia Adams, Staff Writer

Being a National Merit Semifinalist is a great honor that is bestowed to students that have spent years building up their education through perseverance, hard work, and intelligence.

Two of Bearden’s own, Will Lewis and Juliana Pulsinelli, were awarded this title earlier this year, and are extremely honored and humbled to have received it.

These two students scored exceptionally well on their PSAT, putting them in the top one percentile, but each of them has carved a niche at Bearden outside the classroom as well.

Lewis thrives in midfield on state championship team

Lewis is driven when it comes to his education and takes primarily AP classes, and when he is not studying tests, he is on the soccer field.

Lewis’s soccer season kicks into high gear in the spring, and he usually finds entire afternoons spent on the soccer field.

Last year, the soccer team won state which ran the season all the way to the last days of May.

“That kind of consumes me,” Lewis said. “It is hard to maintain my studies in the spring with practicing five times a week.”

However, Lewis has perfected a system that runs on pure motivation to keep him from an overwhelming mass of work.

“I’ve learned responsibility and I’ve been able to balance both of those two,” Lewis said. “I have a sense of responsibility and I’m driven.

“I want to do well in both. I set aside time for soccer and I set aside time for school. It’s been good to make sure I succeed in both of them.”

Drama, science offer Pulsinelli creative, intellectual outlets

Pulsinelli is the only other current Bearden student who has achieved the title of a National Merit Semifinalist.

Pulsinelli is the president of the Math Club and has performed in three of Bearden’s advanced acting shows as well as doing community productions. She is the captain of the Robotics Team and the Scholars Bowl.

She is a member of the Latin Club, History Club, Senior Committee, Key Club, and National Honor Society. Not to mention, Pulsinelli is also involved in a research project.

“I am working on a scientific research project,” Pulsinelli said. “I help an ORNL astrophysicist to test his code.”

When she is not consumed by her immense schedule, Pulsinelli enjoys playing the acoustic guitar and patiently awaits to hear back from the 20 schools she has applied to including schools such as Harvard, Stanford, and MIT.

Both of these students are exceptionally talented in their extracurricular activities while having that same drive and work ethic in the classroom. This is thoroughly backed up by their AP Calculus AB/BC teacher, Mrs. Catherine Buckner.

“Juliana seems to have an innate ability for understanding mathematics and its applications,” Buckner said. “Will has an endearing personality.”

“He was a leader in the cooperative learning groups. Both Will and Juliana must have high Intelligent Quotients to be able to do so well on the PSAT.”