Ashland High students earn National Merit scholarships

Three Ashland High School seniors are among 26 Oregonians recognized as National Merit Scholars in 2018. They’ll each receive annual scholarship awards of $2,500 for college.

Claire Pryor, Julian Rice and Dylan Kistler, teammates on the Ashland High speech and debate team, demonstrated sufficient academic and leadership prowess to earn scholarships, which were awarded to 7,500 students nationwide. That’s narrowed down from the approximate 1.6 million who take the qualifying test, the Preliminary SAT, usually as juniors.

Pryor is headed to Harvard after she graduates, Rice will attend Cal Poly and Kistler will go to Vanderbilt, according to an Oregonian article on all the winners across the state.

In the time since the students took the PSAT, also known as the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (NMSQT), they’ve moved through several selection stages: first, they were named as semifinalists in the fall, then finalists by March.

National Merit Scholarships are awarded based on the following criteria, according to the scholarship organization’s website: “the Finalist’s academic record, information about the school’s curricula and grading system, two sets of test scores, the high school official’s written recommendation, information about the student’s activities and leadership, and the Finalist’s own essay.”

Each of the Ashland students is engaged and involved in extracurriculars. Kistler has participated in soccer and track while in high school, as well as drama club, the student news site and Science Bowl.

Pryor has run cross country and track for her school. She has also engaged with climate change issues as a member of Ashland Youth Climate Action, pushing for reduced carbon emissions at the city and state level.

Rice is a rock climber and has placed in the Oregon Invitational Math Tournament. He was one of several Rogue Valley seniors to be awarded the Presidential Scholarship at Oregon State University, valued at $40,000 across four years.

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