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87 Palo Alto seniors earn National Merit honors

Original post made on Sep 21, 2009

Nearly 10 percent of next June's graduating classes of Gunn and Palo Alto high schools have been named National Merit Semi-Finalists, the Palo Alto Unified School District announced Monday. The elite academic honor, derived from a student's performance on the Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test (PSAT) taken in the junior year, is accorded to fewer than one percent of the nation's high school seniors.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, September 21, 2009, 6:14 PM

Comments (18)

Posted by Paly Parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Sep 21, 2009 at 7:33 pm

Here we go again.

Not to undermine the achievements of the 46 Paly students and 41 Gunn students, but how are the rest of the class going to feel now. Something tells me it is going to feel like being a failure before they have even graduated, or before they have even applied to colleges.

Posted by someone
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 21, 2009 at 7:49 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by Gunn Parent
a resident of Ventura
on Sep 21, 2009 at 8:50 pm

Whoo Hoo- we have the best test takers!
No Child Left Behind is a grand success!
Now all our properties will increase in value with increased demand for high achieving schools.

I hope there are similar press releases and media coverage for other meaures of success for our youth. We need to broaden the definition of success here.

Posted by well
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Sep 21, 2009 at 9:18 pm

Response to Paly Parent

I would hope that the other students are well adjusted enough to celebrate their own successes and also those of their classmates.

Shame on you for undermining the great efforts by the students, the teachers, and the schools.

Posted by RS
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 21, 2009 at 11:19 pm

Congrats 87 in an impressive number.
Congrats to the Commended Students as well.

Posted by resident II
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Sep 22, 2009 at 10:25 am

to both paly and gunn parent,

your sour grapes sounds like your children did not score well enough to make the list. there is no shame in that. plenty of non merit semi finalists make meaningful contributions to the world.

the only shame is your inability to be happy for those who have achieved the semi finalist honor. these are amazing and talented individuals and we are fortunate to have them and their families in our community.

also a special recognition should go out to the teachers who are unlocking the potential of our future leaders.

Posted by classact
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 22, 2009 at 10:25 am

Congratulations to the hard-working teachers, dedicated parents and amazing students of Palo Alto! What an accomplishment!

Posted by Mark
a resident of Palo Verde
on Sep 22, 2009 at 10:29 am

Is there a possible link between this statistic and the horrible other statistic that Palo Alto high school students have created, may the rest in peace?


Posted by Not sayin'
a resident of Ohlone School
on Sep 22, 2009 at 12:03 pm

My child is one of the 87. Since my child is also an Ohlone graduate, my child is not one-dimensional, not focused just on the test, and not a jerk for having achieved this honor. Where have we come that this kind of individual accomplishment results in such an outpouring of bitterness, especially since my child has also struggled with a disability to get here?

THANK YOU to classact.

Posted by Erin
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Sep 22, 2009 at 12:21 pm

Come on people, no one feels like a failure if they aren't a National Merit semi-finalist. Really? Approximately 10% of the class at both high schools gets this honor almost every year and it's fantastic for them. 90% of the class does not. It's OKAY. We continue to go to class and strive for good grades to get into a good college and get on with life.

Palo Alto is a crazy bubble. My advice is to try to get your kids through high school without them feeling like failures if they don't keep up with that 10%, because they will soon realize that they are way ahead of their peers.

Posted by John
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 22, 2009 at 12:42 pm

I cannot believe that certain parents do not want to honor our local scholars. Schools are proud to honor their athletes, so why not honor the scholars as well? Are students ashamed when they don't make it on to the football team?

Posted by Not Sayin'
a resident of Ohlone School
on Sep 22, 2009 at 12:44 pm

One should not post these things on the fly. I should have said that many MANY students at our high schools are not one-dimensional or only focused on tests. I did not mean to imply that only Ohlone students were that way. Also thanks to Resident II, Erin, and John.

Posted by Paly Parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Sep 22, 2009 at 1:08 pm

My post actually started by saying that I did not want to undermine the success of the students who made this honor.

I do however feel very strongly that 90% of our seniors will not be in the group and they will be wondering if they are now second best. Why should the Weekly make a headline of this? Why should this be news? It happens regularly and although for those who win the award and deserve it deserve the congratulations, there are many who have worked equally hard perhaps with other things going on in our lives and need some form of congratulation and encouragement also rather than feeling second best. They may have extremely good PSAT scores, perhaps even higher SAT scores, but they have not been recognised.

We are a community still recovering with the very public suicides of three students in the past several months, and another 2 within the past 10 years. Not getting into the elite top bracket academically or not getting onto the elite athletic team does affect our youth in ways we don't fully realise.

So yes, congratulatios to all our seniors who are working so hard to do well in PSATs, SATs, college applications, striving on our sports teams, etc. You are all doing so well. You may not all be in the honorees this time, but you are still winners in my book.

We have good teachers, good students and good parents in this community and for those who excel, congratulations.

Not a situation for sour grapes, but something we can all take celebrate together.

Posted by another Paly parent
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 22, 2009 at 1:53 pm

why should it be news? Because some people - especially around here - closely compare between high schools/communities. And real estate agents will use this info.

Posted by Harold
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 22, 2009 at 3:51 pm

Yay!! My property value will rise!! Cha-ching!!!

Posted by Teacher mom
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 22, 2009 at 8:26 pm

My son, a senior at Paly, is not a national merit semi finalist, but a bright and capable kid all the same. When he and his classmates started taking the STAR test in elementary school, their test results were consistently very high (higher than the previous years)! When I look at what some of his classmates have accomplished with their time and their talents, I cannot help but be impressed. I think these are an exceptional group of young men and women. Congrats to all of the seniors!

Posted by Susan
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 5, 2009 at 8:55 pm

My son, a Paly graduate, was a National Merit Scholar, but let me tell you, just getting NM recognition is not the bonus that people think it is. It does NOT guarantee automatic admissions to elite schools. Admissions to top colleges is still based, first of all, on GPA in the most rigorous program your school has to offer. There were a number of his NM peers who did not get into top tier schools because of not-so-stellar grades while many of his friends who were NOT NM finalists/scholars got into great schools because of their sustained hard work throughout their high school years. So, don't think NM status is a huge deal because it's not. Top schools know it's just based on your PSAT score and that's all. NM says nothing about your GPA, your extracurricular activities or your character.

Posted by Kmom
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Oct 26, 2009 at 5:44 pm

There is nothing wrong with celebrating NM scholars. The mistake is to just assume these students are happy because they are so successful. There is so much else that happens at High School that affects their lives, that can make them sad for weeks or months. We measure success in terms of grades, tests and college acceptances when we should measure success in terms of being able to communicate, take responsibility, be honest and help others. I'm sure a lot of these NM scholars are great people too. But that's just not news.

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