MPA Seniors Chosen as National Merit Finalists

Morgan Park Academy seniors Katarina Stanley and David Valentine have been named 2018 National Merit Finalists after scoring in the top 1 percent of the 1.6 million students nationwide who took the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test last year.

The National Merit Scholarship Program is an academic competition for recognition and scholarships that began in 1955. At stake are merit scholarships worth more than $32 million that will be offered this spring.

Through February, members of Morgan Park Academy's Class of 2018 have received more than $2 million in college scholarship offers.

Merit Scholarship award winners are chosen from the Finalist group based on their abilities, skills, and accomplishments. Information available for selectors to evaluate includes 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.

Two other MPA seniors also earned recognition from the National Merit Scholarship Program last fall. Theo Covello and Abigail Herman received National Merit Commendation after placing in the top 3 percent of PSAT/NMSQT scorers nationwide.

As a junior last year, Stanley was the top-ranked student in not only her class but in all of Morgan Park Academy’s Upper School. She was named an AP Scholar with Distinction, which is granted to students who receive an average score of at least 3.5 on all AP Exams taken, and scores of 3 or higher on five or more of these exams. She is a National Honor Society member, a Freshman Mentor, and co-president of both the Service Council and the Diversity Council. Stanley plays clarinet, volleyball, and soccer; serves as house manager for school productions; and has won numerous awards in Worldwide Youth in Science and Engineering (WYSE) and Illinois Council of Teachers of Mathematics (ICTM) competitions and in the National Latin Exam. Outside of school, she served as president of the Lincoln Park Zoo’s Conservation Ambassadors Board and as a youth group leader at Willow Creek Community Church.

Valentine also earned recognition as an AP Scholar with Distinction and a member of the National Honor Society and the High Honor Roll. He has made a significant mark in the MPA arts department as a musician, actor, and Arts Council member. He has served as an actor, crew member, and leader for the Drama Club in several stage productions and is a performer, section leader, and composer with the Upper School band. He also is a Math Club tutor and leader and was honored last year as MPA's top chemistry student among underclassmen.

Covello last year was one of two recipients of the Jerome Thrall Junior Leadership Award. The most prestigious award given to Morgan Park Academy students at the end of their junior year, it recognizes faithfulness to the MPA tradition of excellence in citizenship, superior scholarship, and dedication to the enhancement of the common good. He is a member of the National Honor Society and one of four student members of the Academy's Honor Council. He was the top-ranked student in the Class of 2018 as a freshman and sophomore and has been honored as an outstanding underclassman in both world history and U.S. history. Covello sings in choral groups both at MPA and outside of school, plays varsity tennis, acts in school productions, and has contributed to Model UN and the student newspaper. Passionate about history, science, and world travel, he has spent his summers shadowing physicians and paleontologists.

Herman is a member of the National Honor Society, the Math National Honor Society, and the French National Honor Society. Heavily involved in academics, athletics, drama, and other school activities, she has competed in basketball, bowling, and cross country; served with student government, Service Council, Diversity Council, Arts Council, and French Club; and is co-editor of the MPA yearbook. This season she was named to the Independent School League’s girls basketball all-conference team.
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