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National Merit semi-finalists announced

Original post made on Sep 18, 2012

Forty seniors from Palo Alto High School and 33 seniors from Gunn High School have earned recognition as semi-finalists by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, September 18, 2012, 2:41 PM

Comments (22)

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Posted by Chris Zaharias
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 18, 2012 at 5:35 pm

To all those who did not earn a semi-finalist spot, worry not; your academic & professional lives still lie before you, full of opportunity ripe for the taking.

To all those who (like me when I was at Paly), were handed this distinction, strut not; it really just means you listened in class and/or took practice exams. Most NM S-F's I see in the work world work for someone who wasn't one. Stay humble.


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Posted by Dennis
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 18, 2012 at 6:10 pm

Congrats to all - if you haven't yet familiarized yourself with "milestone" this would be a good time to do so.

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by Mom
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 19, 2012 at 11:11 am

Does anyone ever say "stay humble" to a winning sports team? Why not just congratulate these students on their achievement?


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Posted by Paly Parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Sep 19, 2012 at 11:37 am

To all Palo Alto students who didn't make the merit list, the sports team, student body president, etc., and have been told it is the way you play the game, not the end result that is important. I have this advice.

It doesn't feel like it now, when you have tried your best but still not managed to get top dog position or top dog honors, but hang in there, you will succeed in life.

We must stop telling our kindergardeners to dream big and work hard because you can do whatever you set out to do. They do dream big and they do work hard, but they don't all make it in high school or beyond.

Congratulations to these particular students, but there are many more who tried and didn't make it and one day you will be in that position too.


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Posted by Cur Mudgeon
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Sep 19, 2012 at 11:58 am

Congratulations to the semi-finalists. I hope the job market is better for you after you graduate than it has been for many of the best and brightest who went before you and were hyped up by their guidance counselors and college consultants about how the world will be at your feet, only to find good jobs scarce, but unpaid internships, part time and temporary jobs in abundance. Unless you are a software developer or health care professional, of course.


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Posted by David Pepperdine
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 19, 2012 at 1:26 pm

Why does Gunn have a smaller count than Paly this year? Looks like Gunn is slipping badly.


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Posted by Shakes head
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 19, 2012 at 1:40 pm

"Why does Gunn have a smaller count than Paly this year? Looks like Gunn is slipping badly."

You are kidding, right? Please look up "statistical variation".


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Posted by Paly Mom
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 19, 2012 at 2:04 pm

What's with all the negativity here?

These kids all deserve our congratulations for this achievement. Only one percent of high school students reach this stage of the competition. This is a huge honor! High school in Palo Alto is tough and competitive enough without all the derision (and envy?) directed at these kids.

We have a lot of exceptional kids here in Palo Alto--whether they are academic or sports stars, community-minded volunteers, accomplished musicians, artists or just good, hard-working, nice people. Let's celebrate them all for their unique gifts and give them our support now and in the future.


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Posted by palo alto mom
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 19, 2012 at 3:46 pm

Congratulations to these students! To those with negative comments about "Gunn slipping" MV high school had 11 semi-finalists and Los Altos had 14 so I think PAUSD is doing just fine.


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Posted by Mom
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 19, 2012 at 4:56 pm

It would be interesting to know the results for the local private high schools as well.


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Posted by John94306
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 19, 2012 at 9:42 pm

John94306 is a registered user.

From the following lists of other local schools, looks like Lynbrook had around 60 Semi-Finalists, Monta Vista had around 50, and Harker had around 45.

Web Link

Web Link


Kinda puts the PAUSD #'s in perspective if you believe the PSAT performance is meaningful.


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Posted by Chris Zaharias
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 19, 2012 at 9:47 pm

Every year for the past 10-15 a scholarship has been given to a graduating senior at Paly that has *worked very hard* to achieve good, but not great results, while demonstrating a good attitude. The scholarship is in honor of my mom, who worked in the Paly Social Studies Dept for many years.

I think my mom rightly recognized that societal success in education is much more about the general tide rising than it is about the high water mark. The point I would like to make to any students who see this is that it's your effort, attitude and improvement - regardless of where you settle in the bell curve - that *will* bear fruit in life, not the relative results of standardized tests.


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Posted by Paly Mom
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 19, 2012 at 10:13 pm

Chris, That is wonderful that there is a scholarship in honor of your mother that rewards hard work and a great attitude. I celebrate that! Those are really important qualities.

Please also celebrate the kids who work hard and DO make the high water mark. You have no idea who these kids are and what they have had to overcome in their lives to get to this accomplishment. No need to bring these kids down and tell them to "be humble" to elevate the others. There's room for everyone to be successful in their own way and to be appreciated for what they contribute.

I'd love to see an opinion piece written by you about this topic without denigrating the kids who are high academic achievers. Praise hard work and "grit" for its own sake.


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Posted by Chris Zaharias
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 20, 2012 at 6:27 am

Paly Mom - I'm sorry you feel I'm denigrating them. I said "it really just means you listened in class and/or took practice exams. Most NM S-F's I see in the work world work for someone who wasn't one."

That's the truth as I see it. **Standardized tests reveal neither marked intelligence nor superior grit**, and if someone doesn't stand up and say the truth, countless students whose marked struggles to achieve relative standardized test mediocrity might mistakenly conclude that they are less capable and ready for success.


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Posted by Intelligence & Grit
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 20, 2012 at 10:38 am

List of National Merit scholars whom most would say demonstrate "marked intelligence" and "superior grit":

Bill Gates (Microsoft)
Jeff Bezos (Amazon.com)
Elena Kagan (female US Supreme Court justice)
John Roberts (the Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court)
&
even Jerry Greenfield (of Ben & Jerry's ice cream fame)

Web Link
Web Link

Sure, people who were not National Merit Scholars have grit and intelligence too. But Chris Z why would you #1 assume that these 70+ PAUSD seniors are not intelligent/grit-ful and #2 post comments that they will likely read that are unfounded and, quite honestly, mean-spirited?

Their achievement does not take away from others' accomplishments which are heralded elsewhere and often. Just look at the pages and pages of stories the Weekly runs each week on star student athletes.


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Posted by It's Not Zero Sum
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Sep 20, 2012 at 11:21 am

I think Chris's point is valid. This community does not suffer from a lack of celebrating the accomplishments of its high achievers. I think we can all agree that there are a lot of venues and ways in which kids who do well get attention -- and they are rewarded with a lot of fat envelopes too. I think Chris is saying something that PAUSD (and the Weekly) need to hear which is that this is only one measure of success but there are others. This could be called EQ or social skills or social emotional learning or what have you. This is great, but it is one dimension of success. We need to move away from the idea that there is some fixed amount of success or praise in the universe and so all these parents need to run in and grab the most praise for their child that they can. This is one instance where it is good that paonline is anonymous since the kids involved would die of embarassment if they saw their mothers out here dueling over whether Chris is praising their child enough. All he's saying is that there's more to life than a high test score your junior year. He's not saying your child is worthless so you can stop sharpening your knives.


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Posted by Mom
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 21, 2012 at 9:16 pm

Every single week in the paper, a whole group of athletes are selected for recognition.
There is no weekly equivalent for academic achievements.
This is a significant honor that deserves applause, not denigration.


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Posted by Student
a resident of Gunn High School
on Sep 22, 2012 at 5:24 pm

A lot of the students play varsity sports and have other activities too, and are pretty well-rounded. We're not all test nerds! I believe that standardized tests don't measure intelligence, but it wouldn't hurt to do well on them right?


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Posted by Student
a resident of Gunn High School
on Sep 22, 2012 at 5:24 pm

A lot of the students play varsity sports and have other activities too, and are pretty well-rounded. We're not all test nerds! I believe that standardized tests don't measure intelligence, but it wouldn't hurt to do well on them right?


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Posted by Student
a resident of Meadow Park
on Sep 30, 2012 at 10:38 am

Congratulations to all the Castilleja Girls!

Meghana Bhat, Victoria Dean, Hannah Gropper, Sara Holston, Kylie Jue, Edina Lee, Sophia Levin, Angela Li, Olivia Nicholls and Simone Seiver.


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Posted by iSez
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Sep 30, 2012 at 11:32 pm

iSez is a registered user.

Success in life is much more than academic achievement. I know plenty of Ivy League graduates who have no common sense or office politics sense and they are hardly successful. Success in academics is one favorable factor but not the end-all.

Congratulations to these students for your great start!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Student
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Feb 20, 2013 at 9:25 pm

Congratulations to all the Castilleja Girls!

Meghana Bhat, Victoria Dean, Hannah Gropper, Sara Holston, Kylie Jue, Edina Lee, Sophia Levin, Angela Li, Olivia Nicholls and Simone Seiver.


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