Eight Spartan scholars recognized through National Merit Scholarship Program


Carrye Holland

Seven Commended Students pose for a picture in the school courtyard. Front Row: Michelle Barnes (12), Ava Wang (12), Jie Wang (12), Sarah Shen (12) Back Row: Mason Pruitte (12), Gabriel Geiser (12), Kai Estes-Lumpkin (12) Not Pictured: Anming Gu (12)

Every year, juniors all over the United States complete the PSAT with hopes of qualifying for the National Merit Scholarship Program. With practice tests and dedication, eight students from White Station High School earned the title of Commended Student this September by scoring within the top 3% of all PSAT test takers. 

Of the 1.6 million high school students who take the PSAT, only 50,000 are recognized for their scores. Two-thirds of these select few received Letters of Commendation for their academic abilities, which includes Ava Wang (12), Sarah Shen (12), Michelle Barnes (12), Jie Wang (12), Mason Pruitte (12), Gabriel Geiser (12), Kai Estes-Lumpkin (12) and Anming Gu (12).

Although they are not eligible for National Merit scholarships, Commended Students still benefit from scoring well on the test. 

[The PSAT] helps students gauge their readiness for the actual SAT, which is crucial for college applications,” Sarah Shen (12) said. “I’m not one of those qualifiers, but the PSAT helped me score better on the SAT. That higher score will hopefully open up more options for colleges since it’ll increase my chances of getting into them.”

Students should take into account that the PSAT can influence their academic future. Being a Commended Student may provide more opportunities for Shen and others; however, not all students shared the same perspective toward the title. 

I understand that it’s still an honor to be a Commended Scholar and many people would appreciate such an opportunity, but it’s definitely not the best feeling when you were only 1 point away from getting a couple thousand dollars for free,” Ava Wang (12) said. 

The selection index cutoff score for Tennessee was 219, and Wang’s near attainment of the qualifying score is worth noting. However, she also said, “It’s not the end of the world if you don’t make the cutoffs.”

White Station’s Commended Students represent their school through academic achievements and serve as exemplars for Spartan scholars.