McBain student named semifinalist in 2022 National Merit Scholarship Program | news

MCBAIN — McBain Schools has a National Merit Scholarship Program semi-finalist.

High school student Cora McLean is among 16,000 semifinalists who will compete for around 7,250 National Merit Scholarships worth nearly $28 million. She was recognized for her achievement during a recent McBain School Board meeting.

“I didn’t really know what it was at first,” McLean said. “But then I was invited to the school board and told it was a really big deal.”

The McBain senior first found out she was a semifinalist after getting called down to the counselor’s office. McLean said she was in disbelief, even after receiving a letter in the mail confirming what the counselor told her.

“I didn’t think I’d qualify for something this large,” she said. “But it’s definitely a good opportunity, and we’ll see where it goes.”

The National Merit Scholarship Program honors individual students who show exceptional academic ability and potential for success in rigorous college studies.

High school juniors entered the 2023 National Merit Scholarship Program by taking the 2021 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test, which served as an initial screen of program entrants. The nationwide pool of semifinalists, representing less than 1% of US high school seniors, includes the highest-scoring entrants in each state.

To be considered a semifinalist, students must fulfill several requirements to advance to the finalist level of the competition. About 95% of the semifinalists are expected to reach finalist standing. Approximately half of the finalists will win a National Merit Scholarship, earning the Merit Scholar title.

“She is just intrinsically motivated to do well,” High School Principal Ryan Biller said. “She has goals and aspirations to do good things.”

McLean said she has attended McBain schools for her entire life. For the last four years, she has been involved in the high school band and choir group called HighLiters.

“In fifth grade, I started both piano and the clarinet at the same time and fell in love with both,” she said. “It was always the high point of my day.”

McLean later joined the choir and got involved in teaching the middle school band. She said her experience with the middle schoolers piqued her interest in music education because she got to watch the students grow before her eyes.

“It was cool because I’m doing what I love while helping other people,” she said.

The future is looking bright for the young musician. McLean said she has applied to Central Michigan University and Grand Valley State University, and is leaning toward attending CMU.

McLean said her plans are to major in instrumental music education and minor in choral music education. She would also like to get involved in writing.

The next stage in her journey is already under way. McLean said she has filled out forms to become a finalist for the National Merit Scholarship Program. McLean will be notified if she advanced to finalist standing next February.

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