Four from Yukon earn National Merit Scholarships

Four students who attend schools in Yukon are among 7,500 students from across the nation to be awarded National Merit Scholarships.

Both Yukon High School and Southwest Covenant Schools have two winners.

All four students are receiving college-based scholarships, which means they are awarded through the National Merit organization, but are sponsored by a university.

The winners were notified this week.

At Yukon High School, Brandon Cacini-Tate and Tien Tran have been awarded National Merit Scholarships through the University of Oklahoma.

Cacini-Tate is the son of Theresa Cacini and Christopher Tate.

Tran is the daughter of Phuong Doan and Steve Tran.

Both of their packages are valued at more than $60,000 from the university.

Meanwhile, Gabriel Parker and Esther Weygant at Southwest Covenant also were notified that they had been awarded scholarships.

Parker, who is the son of Kelly and Dana Parker, plans to attend Oklahoma State University in Stillwater. His scholarship package is valued at about $66,000.

Esther Weygant was awarded a scholarship through the University of Oklahoma. She is the daughter of Michael and Miriam Weygant.

Liz Bowers, the academic adviser at the school, said the 26 seniors making up this year’s graduating class have received more than $1.738 million in scholarship awards.

“We are blessed for sure,” she said.

Yukon Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Jason Simeroth said it has been several years since Yukon has had a National Merit Scholarship winner.

“They have done a great job,” he said. “Our staff has put an emphasis on a doing a little better job of serving those who are accelerating and those, who with a little push, can do well not only on the local and state test, but the national tests as well,” he said.

That, he said, is one of the reasons the school district switched recently to the PSAT exam as its go-to college preparatory exam.

“We are hugely proud of them. When you have a couple of students who stand out, they need to be celebrated,” Simeroth said.

This year’s National Merit Scholarship Program began in October 2016 when more than 1.6 million juniors in more than 22,000 high schools took the Preliminary National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test, which served as an initial screen of program entrants.

Last fall, the highest-scoring participants in each state, representing fewer than one percent of the nation’s high school seniors, were named semifinalists on a state-representational basis.

Only these 16,000 semifinalists had an opportunity to continue in the competition.

From the semifinalist group, about 15,000 students met the very high academic standards and other requirements to advance to the finalist level of the competition.

By the conclusion of the 2018 program, about 7,500 finalists will have earned the “Merit Scholar” title and received more than $31 million in college scholarships.

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