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MENDOTA HEIGHTS, Minn., Sept. 12, 2018 – Saint Thomas Academy announced today that seniors Luke Kolar and Peter Holmes, were named semifinalists in the 64thannual National Merit Scholarship Program. They are among the approximately 16,000 semifinalists named today by officials of National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC). The semifinalists have an opportunity to continue in the competition for some 7,500 National Merit Scholarships worth more than $31 million that will be offered next spring. To be considered for a Merit Scholarship® award, semifinalists must fulfill several requirements to advance to the finalist level of the competition. Over 90 percent of the semifinalists are expected to attain finalist standing, and about half of the finalists will win a National Merit Scholarship, earning the Merit Scholar® title. 

NMSC, a not-for-profit organization that operates without government assistance, was established in 1955 specifically to conduct the annual National Merit Scholarship Program. Scholarships are underwritten by NMSC with its own funds and by approximately 410 business organizations and higher education institutions that share NMSC's goals of honoring the nation's scholastic champions and encouraging the pursuit of academic excellence.

Steps in the 2019 Competition 
Over 1.6 million juniors in about 22,000 high schools entered the 2019 National Merit Scholarship Program by taking the 2017 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT®), which served as an initial screen of program entrants. The nationwide pool of semifinalists, representing less than one percent of U.S. high school seniors, includes the highest-­scoring entrants in each state. The number of semifinalists in a state is proportional to the state's percentage of the national total of graduating seniors. 

To become a finalist, the semifinalist and his or her high school must submit a detailed scholarship application, in which they provide information about the semifinalist's academic record, participation in school and community activities, demonstrated leadership abilities, employment, and honors and awards received. A semifinalist must have an outstanding academic record through­out high school, be endorsed and recommended by a high school official, write an essay and earn SAT® scores that confirm the student's earlier performance on the qualifying test. 

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 based on their skills, accomplishments and potential for success in rigorous college studies, without regard to gender, race, ethnic origin or religious preference. 

National Merit Scholarships 
Three types of National Merit Scholarships will be offered in the spring of 2019. Every finalist will compete for one of 2,500 National Merit® $2,500 Scholarships that will be awarded on a state-representational basis. About 1,000 corporate-sponsored merit scholarship awards will be provided by approximately 230 corporations and business organizations for finalists who meet specified criteria, such as children of the grantor's employees or residents of communities where sponsor plants or offices are located. In addition, about 180 colleges and universities are expected to finance some 4,000 college-sponsored merit scholarship awards for finalists who will attend the sponsor institution. National Merit Scholarship winners of 2019 will be announced in four nationwide news releases beginning in April and concluding in July. These scholarship recipients will join some 338,000 other distinguished young people who have earned the Merit Scholar title.

MENDOTA HEIGHTS, Minn., Sept. 11, 2018 – Saint Thomas Academy French Teacher and Co-moderator of the Experimental Vehicle Team Caroline Little recently completed her requirements to become a National Geographic Certified Educator. The free professional development program from the National Geographic Society recognizes pre-K through 12 educators teaching kids about the world and how it works, empowering them to be informed decision-makers equipped to solve meaningful challenges to make the world a better place. The program builds educators’ skills in generating classroom activities that are interdisciplinary and centered around real-world problems of local, regional and global scale.

As a National Geographic Certified Educator, Little is eligible to:

  • advise on National Geographic on content and programming
  • lead National Geographic trainings
  • serve as a mentor to other educators
  • receive early access to new National Geographic programs
  • apply for the annual Grosvenor Teacher Fellowship

She will also be a guest blogger for the National Geographic Educator Blog.  

To earn the certification, Little completed the program’s three phases:

  1. A workshop to gain an understanding of and skills in furthering National Geographic’s educational mission.
  2. Development and implementation of two activities applying the skills gained in Phase 1 while incorporating a National Geographic resource.
  3. A capstone project that demonstrated her professional growth and student learning.

For her capstone project in the certification program, Little had her French 2 students (grades 8-10) work together in small groups, imagining they were astronauts charged with establishing a habitat on Mars. The students departed earth from one of three space ports: Guiana Space Port, Baikonur Cosmodrome or the Kennedy Space Center, using the Map Maker Interactive tool and a Map Maker Kit world map, adding various layers as they worked.

Little has been teaching for 17 years. She works to integrate STEM disciplines into her French language classroom, where vocabulary and conversation are often related to soldering or electrical wiring, the International Space Station and the newest advances in engineering. In 2016-17, she completed 50 hours of training in NASA’s Microgravity University for Educators. She is currently pursuing her master’s certificate in engineering education at the University of St. Thomas.

Little has received many honors in her career, including:

  • Regional Honoree - WEM Foundation Outstanding Educator Award 2017-18
  • Air Force Association National STEM Teacher of the Year First Runner Up 2016-17
  • Air Force Association Minnesota STEM Teacher of the Year 2015-16
  • 2015 Prezi Educators Society
  • American Association of French Teachers’ Dorothy S. Ludwig Excellence in Teaching Award - Secondary Level 2015
  • Minnesota French Teacher of the Year 2010-2011

Old Dutch Quality Team of the Week

Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2018

Team = Saint Thomas Academy Football

The Cadets opened the season under a new head coach with a 50-7 victory at North St. Paul. The coach is Dan O’Brien, a former assistant coach at the University of Minnesota under Jerry Kill and Tracy Claeys.

After spending the 2017 season as an assistant coach at St. Agnes High School in St. Paul, O’Brien joined the Cadets last spring. His last stint as a high school head coach was at Bemijdi from 1993 to 1995. St. Thomas Academy will play at Apple Valley this Friday.

Congratulations to Saint Thomas Academy football for being this week’s Old Dutch Quality Team of the Week.