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A rare accomplishment

FHS Senior Gabe Coonce has qualified as the school’s first National Merit Scholarship Program Finalist in more than 20 years.

He has been chosen to be among a group of only 15,000 of the top high school students in the nation. According to the National Merit Scholarship Program, Merit Scholar awardees will be chosen from this group of finalists based on their abilities, skills, and accomplishments. The organization awards approximately 1,300 recipients with Special Scholarships annually. Only around 7,600 finalists will become Merit Scholarship® winners this year.

In May of 2013, Gabe was notified he was a semi-finalist. He took the Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT) during his junior year. The organization requested his SAT (Scholarship Aptitude Test) scores last September.

Principal Shannon Henson said, “To my knowledge, we have not had a National Merit Scholar semi-finalist at Fredericktown High School in (at least) the last 20 years.”

“It has been a long process”, Gabe said. After graduation Coonce plans to attend an Ivy League school and major in physics.

In addition to his rigorous academic classes he participates in several extracurricular activities. Gabe is a member of the student council, BETA club, Drama Club, Scholars Bowl, FHS Band and JROTC. He is in his fourth year as a member of the scholar bowl, band and JROTC organizations. He has qualified as an All-Conference Band member for four years. He currently serves the ranks of Battalion Commander and Rifle Captain in the JROTC.

The National Merit Scholarship Program is conducted by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC), which is a not-for-profit organization that does not receive government funding. Program participants take the Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT), usually in their junior year. NMSC evaluates the scores from the test (PSAT/NMSQT) to determine 50,000 qualifiers. Selection Index scores are utilized in the selection of program participants. These S.I. scores are calculated by combining the sums of critical reading, mathematics, and writing skills scores.

According their website, the mission of National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) is to recognize and honor the academically talented students of the United States. NMSC accomplishes its mission by conducting nationwide academic scholarship programs. 

Gabe Coonce is a Senior at FHS and a National Merit Scholarship Finalist.

Gabe Coonce is a Senior at FHS and a National Merit Scholarship Finalist.

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