Two H-F Seniors Named National Merit Finalists

CoverMeritHomewood-Flossmoor Community High School District 233 is proud to announce that two members of its senior class — Margaret Colton and Heather Culbertson — have advanced in the 2016 National Merit Scholarship competition and have been named finalists in the program. They are two of nearly 15,000 students across the U.S. to receive this honor from the National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC), based in Evanston.
“What a wonderful opportunity for these students to be recognized as two of the most outstanding students in the country,” says Dr. Von Mansfield, district superintendent. “We are very proud of Maggie and Heather, and would like to congratulate their parents and families, as well, and thank our teachers and staff for all the support they provided to them.” 
Colton and Culbertson are both residents of Homewood, participants in H-F’s music program — Colton in Viking Band, Culbertson in Viking Choir — and members of the H-F International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme. They were named semifinalists based upon test scores on the PSAT/NMSQT test, which they completed in fall 2014, and were named finalists in February 2016. They are now eligible to receive scholarships from NMSC for fall 2016. Approximately 7,400 scholarships worth more than $32 million will be offered later this spring to this year’s finalists. 
“It’s very exciting for me,” says Culbertson. “I am honored that I am one of such a small number of students and I’m thankful for being able to take advantage of opportunities provided by my school and community.”
“Being a finalist is a huge accomplishment for me,” says Colton. “I feel very honored to have been selected as one of only 15,000 high school students to meet the requirements.”
Both students are planning to study science in college: Culbertson will double major in biological chemistry and applied mathematics at Evangel University in Springfield, Mo., and Colton will major in biology or microbiology — most likely — at the University of Chicago in Chicago. They were both greatly influenced by the challenging science classes they took at H-F in choosing their career path: Culbertson would like to become a genetics researcher, and Colton would like to work on health-related public policy or become a biology researcher.
“The most influential experience I had was sophomore year when I took both AP Biology and AP Chemistry,” says Culbertson. “It was so much fun to take challenging classes that I enjoyed so much and that was what made me want to go into biochemistry. Taking both classes at the same time really gave me insight as to how they were connected.”
Colton says she also benefitted from taking AP Biology and also Microbiology at H-F — two courses that showed her the career opportunities available to her in science — but enjoyed her other subjects and extracurricular activities, as well.
“I also would like to give credit to my band director, Mrs. Whitlock, and my speech coach, Ms. Stroemer, who have instilled a sense of responsibility in me and a motivation to constantly better myself,” she says.
This is the 61st year of the National Merit program. Scholarships are underwritten with National Merit’s own funds and by approximately 440 business organizations and high education institutions that share the NMSC’s goals of honoring the nation’s scholastic champions and encouraging the pursuit of academic excellence.