Four Seniors Named National Merit Semifinalists

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Four Locust Valley High School seniors have been named National Merit semifinalists in the National Merit Scholarship Program, sponsored by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation. 

Nina Cialone, Michael DiSpirito, Michelle Hsu and Nitha Paulus were recognized for achieving exceptional scores on the Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test (PSAT) as juniors when they took the exam along with 1.6 million students across the nation. Of those high school students, only approximately 16,000 were named semifinalists.

Nina has been inducted into the National Honor Society and Foreign Language Honor Society, and is a member of Book Club, Model UN, Peer Leaders and the Jesters, where she performs and works as part of the crew. She is the captain of the cross-country team and has set multiple school records in track. Nina uses her athletic ability to assist the coach for a local CYO track team. Outside of school, Nina enjoys taking voice lessons.

Michael is an IB Diploma candidate, a member of National Honor Society, Tri-M Honor Society and an ambassador in the Italian Honor Society. He is a three-sport athlete as a member of the varsity track and baseball teams, and captain of the varsity soccer team. Michael is the commissioner of a local recreational soccer league he created. Michael plays the viola in the chamber orchestra and has performed at Carnegie Hall, as well as in the Long Island String Festival. He also gives music lessons to younger students. Michael earned the opportunity to learn leadership skills through the American Legion’s Boys State program. 

Michelle is an IB Diploma candidate, secretary of the French Honor Society, a member of the National Honor Society and Tri-M Honor Society, and editor-in-chief of the high school newspaper, The Spectrum. She plays cello in the chamber orchestra and piano in the stage band. Michelle has performed on the piano at Carnegie Hall as well as at international competitions in places such as Vienna and Amsterdam. She recently published a manuscript in a scientific journal and completed an internship at the Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research. 

Nitha is an IB Diploma candidate and a member of the National Honor Society and French Honor Society. She is a member of the cross-country team and co-jumping captain of the track team. Nitha is a member of the Jesters, performing in the high school dramas and musicals, as well as a singer with the Chamber Chorus. She has joined the Fashion Club and Quiz Bowl and plays guitar outside of school. Nitha is a talented artist, taking the IB Visual Arts course and focusing on painting and drawing. Community service for Nitha includes taking mission trips with her church to improve life in the communities they visit.

The four semifinalists will now compete for spots as finalists by proving that they have achieved high academic standing throughout high school and by earning a score on the SAT that is consistent with the high scores they earned on the PSAT. In February, the National Merit Scholarship Corporation will announce the finalists who will go on to compete for the actual scholarships.

Congratulations to Locust Valley’s four semifinalists and good luck in the next stage of the competition!