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31 National Merit Scholars

31 National Merit Scholars

A school-record 31 seniors were recognized Wednesday (Sept. 13) at Convocation as National Merit Scholars, including a school-record 14 National Merit Semifinalists, by Jesuit principal Mike Scicchitano.

National Merit recognition is based on the PSAT score, a standardized test administered in October of their junior year. About 16,000 Semifinalists annually nationwide are honored from more than 1.3 million who take the PSAT.

The 2024 National Merit Semifinalists from Jesuit are: Gabe Brazzeal, Drew Campbell, Alex Freund, Tristan Garcia, Ethan Hahn, Fay Herrero, Michael Jacolow, Christopher Kelly, Derek Lezama, Diego Mejia, Ward Sanders, Diego Tobon, Tyler Tyson, and Simon Wills.

Also recognized were an additional 17 Commended Students. The total of 31 Semifinalists and Commended Students also is the most in school history. 

The 2024 Commended Students from Jesuit are: Wes Baum, Ivan Borowiec, Jackson Hahn, Jad Hatoum, Tyler Henry, Jacob Hernandez, Sam Jacobs, Cooper Kasper, Max Livingston, Dean Lucas, Kyle Matheny, Christopher Newcom, Carlos Pasquotto, Eric Rein, Max Schellman, James Slack, and Nate Wasylik.

(Click here to view the video of the Convocation, and click here and see below for photos.)

Scicchitano congratulated them for their achievement and acknowledged the dedicated teachers who have helped them, while detailing the value and meaning of becoming a National Merit Semifinalist. He compared it to being an "Academic State Champion." School president Fr. Richard C. Hermes, S.J. then received the Semifinalists in front of the student body in the Chapel of the Holy Cross, and afterward the Semifinalists and their families gathered for a reception in the Multi-Purpose Room along with the Commended Scholars.

The 14 Semifinalists is the most among any high school in Tampa. From among the 71 Jesuit schools in Canada and the United States, Jesuit High School of Tampa ranks 4th for highest percentage of students attaining National Merit Semifinalist status this year. Over the past 11 years, 74 Jesuit students have achieved Semifinalist recognition.

The PSAT qualifying standard for students to be recognized as Semifinalists can change annually and will vary from state to state. The numbers are often slightly different year-to-year because the National Merit Corporation determines the allocation of Semifinalists based on each state’s percentage of the national total of graduating high school seniors. This year in Florida, 998 students statewide earned Semifinalist honors.

The 16,000+ Semifinalists nationwide will continue in the pursuit of 7,250 National Merit Scholarships worth nearly $30 million that will be determined in the spring. Semifinalists must fulfill several requirements to advance to the Finalist level of the competition later this school year. About 95% of the Semifinalists attain Finalist standing, and nearly half of the Finalists will receive a National Merit Scholarship and earn the Merit Scholar title. The percentage of Semifinalists from Jesuit achieving the Merit Scholar title over the past decade has been well above 50%.

For much more information about the National Merit Scholarship Program, which dates back to the 1950s, click here