Sayville High School seniors recognized
Douglas Read and Thomas Faughnan

Courtesy photos

Sayville High School seniors recognized


WEST SAYVILLE—Thomas Faughnan and Douglas Read, both Sayville High School seniors, have been listed among the semifinalists for the National Merit Scholarship. 

About 1.6 million juniors in more than 22,000 high schools entered the 2018 National Merit Scholarship Program by taking the 2016 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT®), which served as an initial screen of program entries. The nationwide semifinalists, representing less than 1 percent of U.S. high school seniors, include the highest-scoring entrants in each state.

“I felt extremely honored to be named a semifinalist and to be in the company of such a relatively small group of hardworking students,” Faughnan said. “My high school experience has been fortunate, as I’ve been surrounded by amazing peers and teachers. I’ll definitely miss Sayville High School when I graduate, but I’m very excited to take advantage of all that college has to offer next year.”

At the moment, Faughnan is leaning towards studying engineering because it “has the power to use abstract concepts of mathematics and physics and apply them to the real world to improve society.” However, he isn’t locked into any specific career goal because he has a wide range of interests, including computer science, film, history and political science.

Read was surprised to hear he was a semifinalist. “I felt a sense of accomplishment,” he said. “I had spent a lot of time preparing for the SAT, so doing well on the PSAT and being named a semifinalist was satisfying because it felt like my hard work was paying off.”

Read is also excited about graduating high school and feels it’s time to move on. “It’s come at a good time in my life and I feel ready to move on to college,” he said. Read hasn’t picked a major yet and is applying to college undecided. “I’m applying mostly to liberal arts schools and look forward to exploring new fields and finding what I’m passionate about.”

The number of semifinalists in a state that enrolls approximately 2 percent of the nation’s graduating seniors would be about 320 (2 percent of the 16,000 semifinalists). NMSC then arranges the selection index scores of all National Merit Program participants within a state in descending order. The score at which a state’s allocation is most closely filled becomes the semifinalist qualifying score. Entrants with a selection index score at or above the qualifying score are named semifinalists. As a result of this process, semifinalists’ qualifying scores vary from state to state and from year to year, but the scores of all semifinalists are extremely high.

“We are extremely proud of Tom [Faughnan] and Doug [Read] for their accomplishments in being named National Merit Scholarship semifinalists,” said Sayville High School principal Ron Hoffer. “It is because of gentlemen like them that make our school community such a great place to learn. Congratulations!”

From the approximately 16,000 semifinalists, about 15,000 are expected to advance to the finalist level, and in February they will be notified of this designation. All National Merit Scholarship winners will be selected from this group of finalists. Merit Scholar designees are selected on the basis of their skills, accomplishments, and potential for success in rigorous college studies, without regard to gender, race, ethnic origin or religious preference.

“Given the rigorous requirements that semifinalists must meet to move on in the competition, NMSC receives applications from many outstanding students every year,” said Katy Wheat, a representative for the program. “After being named scholars, some of these students are contacted by NMSC to be featured in our annual report and our news site—reading about the experiences and accomplishments of these scholars can give you an idea of the community that the 7,500 scholarship winners of
the 2018 competition will join in the spring.”