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Kristy Salazar, a national merit scholarship semifinalist, poses for a picture with Shadow Ridge leadership.

Students recognized by the National Merit Scholarship Program

The Dysart Unified School District is proud to recognize three extraordinary students for the 64th National Merit Scholarship Program.  The National Merit Scholarship Program honors individual students who show exceptional academic ability and potential for success in rigorous college studies.  

Kristy Salazar, a senior at Shadow Ridge High School, was named one of approximately 16,000 Semifinalists in the National Merit Scholarship Program. The nationwide pool of Semifinalists, representing less than one percent of U.S. high school seniors, includes the highest-scoring entrants in each state on the 2018 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT).  These academically talented high school seniors have an opportunity to continue in the competition for some 7,500 National Merit Scholarships worth more than $32 million that will be offered next spring. To be considered for a Merit Scholarship award, Semifinalists must fulfill several requirements to advance to the Finalist level of the competition. From the approximately 16,000 Semifinalists, about 15,000 are expected to advance to the Finalist level, and in February they will be notified of this designation.

Kristy is undecided in her college plans but is considering Arizona State University, Columbia University, or the University of Notre Dame.  She has a strong interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) and is considering a major in Aerospace or Environmental Science.   

Aidan Johansson, a senior at Shadow Ridge High School and Brian Lunn a senior at Valley Vista High School, were both named Commended Scholars. Commended students represent more than two-thirds of the approximately 50,000 high scorers on the PSAT/NMSQT and receive Letters of Commendation in recognition of their outstanding academic promise. Commended Students are named on the basis of a nationally applied Selection Index score and some of these students do become candidates for Special Scholarships sponsored by corporations and businesses.

Aidan Johansson, a senior at Shadow Ridge High School, poses with leadership after being named a Commended Scholar.
Brian Lunn, a senior at Valley Vista High School, poses with leadership after being named a Commended Scholar.

Aidan is applying to several schools including Princeton, Harvard and the Michigan Institute of Technology.  He has a strong interest in Science pathways. 

Brian Lunn applied to West Point and received a Letter of Assurance this fall for a recommendation and cadetship from the United States Military Academy.

The mission of National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) is to recognize and honor the academically talented students of the United States. NMSC accomplishes its mission by conducting nationwide academic scholarship programs. The enduring goals of NMSC's scholarship programs are:

  • To promote a wider and deeper respect for learning in general and for exceptionally talented individuals in particular 
  • To shine a spotlight on brilliant students and encourage the pursuit of academic excellence at all levels of education 
  • To stimulate increased support from individuals and organizations that wish to sponsor scholarships for outstanding scholastic talent.


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