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Class of 2020 Seniors Receive National Merit Recognition


Fourteen seniors from the Class of 2020 are National Merit Scholars, recognizing a record number of Mount Si High School students this year. They earned this distinction by earning top scores in the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT®), which students across the nation take the fall of their junior year.


Among the 14 seniors, we congratulate 11 who have been named National Merit Commended Students, in recognition of their outstanding academic promise. The students include (alphabetically): Natalie Bateman, Allison Beedle, Analise Chiu, Sydney Fortner, Conner Kaeberlein, Ainsley Laub, Kaidan Popp, Benjamin Price, Hari Rathnam, Davis Sauer, and Blakely “Blake” Woodford. Approximately 34,000 students (two-thirds) of the top 50,000 highest scoring students, out of 1.5 million students who tested, are honored with Commended Student awards each year. This commendation recognizes students' academic success and potential, demonstrated by their outstanding performance on the October 2018 PSAT/NMSQT® qualifying test – which they took as juniors. 


Also, three Mount Si students -- Kristina Chiu, Bradley Smith, and Jerry Zhu – were named as National Merit Semifinalists. For this distinction, they scored among the top 1% of students (in the top 16,000 students) out of 1.5 million students from 21,000 U.S. high schools who took the exam last year.  As semifinalists, they can continue in the program, to compete through an application process, to be selected as National Merit Finalists and qualify for college scholarships. (The College Board announces finalists in April typically.)


Class of 2020 National Merit Scholars

Congratulations to Mount Si High School’s 2019-20 National Merit scholars.

Back row, left-to right: Hari Rathnam, Analise Chiu, Allison Beedle, Natalie Bateman,

Davis Sauer and Ainsley Laub. Front row, from left: Bradley Smith, Benjamin Price,

Blake Woodford, Kristina Chiu, Kaidan Popp, Sydney Fortner and Jerry Zhu

Not pictured: Conner Kaeberlein


Below, the students shared their future goals and aspirations, as well as some words of wisdom for freshmen just starting high school:


  • Natalie Bateman plans to attend Brigham Young University to earn a music education degree, then get a master’s degree at Central Washington University. Her goal is to be an orchestra teacher in Washington.  Natalie’s advice:  “Don’t procrastinate.  It is important to realize early that your time is incredibly valuable.  Don’t let anyone tell you that your dreams are unrealistic or that you aren’t good enough to pursue them.”
  • Allison Beedle is planning to attend a four-year college to major in biology or zoology, and then continue on to veterinary school and earn a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) degree.  Advice to others:  “Join clubs to learn what you love.  Appreciate sleep because you won’t get much in a couple years. Join band.  Don’t be afraid to take hard classes.  Trust yourself – you know you better than anyone else.”
  • Analise Chiu plans to attend a four-year college, preferably outside of Washington State and study engineering -- aerospace, materials, environmental or civil engineering are of interest.  Analise also plans to continue playing trumpet in college.  Advice: “Join band, even if you weren’t in middle school band, because it is a great community to be a part of.  Start challenging yourself with some difficult classes as soon as you can, but don’t overwhelm yourself either.  Focus on what you’re good at to bring out the best in yourself; you’ll be more successful and you won’t be wasting time trying to make yourself into a ‘well-rounded’ person.  If everyone was a well-rounded person, there would be nothing left to distinguish people and make them unique.  You’re an individual for a reason.  Be that individual.  One more thing, listen to your teachers.  They really appreciate that and they’ll be more willing to listen to you if you listen to them.”
  • Kristina Chiu is hoping to attend a four-year college and major in environmental studies, food science, or philosophy, or some intersection of those three.  She wants to attend law school after college. Her advice to others just starting high school:  “Do debate.  Do sleep.  Do study.  Don’t judge yourself too harshly.  Take classes you like, even if they’re not “high Level” or don’t contribute to your “major.”  Ask your teachers for help; ask your friends/classmates for help.  Join clubs – even if you don’t stay in them, you’ll make friends.  MOST IMPORTANT:  Don’t be afraid to change your beliefs if the facts don’t support your old ones.  Humans are supposed to progress and change – changing your beliefs just means you’re learning.”
  • Sydney Fortner is hoping to be admitted to Dartmouth College, early decision, to major in psychology. After undergraduate school, she plans to attend a physical therapy school to receive a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree, then open her own Physical Therapy clinic.  Sydney’s advice for 9th graders:  “It’s not uncool to get good grades and put effort into school.  It’s obviously important to study and challenge yourself, but I should also emphasize the importance of making the most of high school and getting out and being social!  High school is so important!  Also, you don’t have to be everything.  Find what makes you happy and run with it!”
  • Ainsley Laub plans to a major in math at a four-year college in Washington or California.  She also wants to get a master’s degree and teaching certificate, to be able to teach math to high school students. Advice:  “Don’t be afraid to take hard classes!  They may seem daunting but if you take them in subjects that you enjoy, they aren’t so bad.  Then again, make sure you have a balance so you aren’t overwhelmed.  It’s possible!”
  • Kaidan Popp is planning to attend a west coast college where he can play soccer, while studying broadcast journalism and film. His advice:  “Focus on your work and turn it in.  And, take the time to enjoy high school.”
  • Benjamin Price plans to get a physics/engineering degree at a four-year college, and maybe a master’s degree in a similar field.  He’s looking at Princeton, Northwestern and universities in California.  His advice:  “Take hard classes and work harder.  Pursue something you enjoy.  It doesn’t have to be your life’s work (or even close) but it’s good to dive deep into something.  And, don’t make huge commitments only for college apps.”
  • Hari Rathnam goals include attending a four-year college, studying bioengineering, and possibly pursuing a master’s/PhD/MBA degree.  He’s considering UW, UCSD, Georgia Tech, and University of Michigan. Hari is interested in pursuing medicine and technology, and plans to continue volunteering. His advice for 9th graders:  “Care about your grades/activities early in your high school career, to get as much exposure as possible.”  
  • Davis Sauer wants to attend a four-year engineering university like the University of Washington and study/major in computer engineering.  His advice for 9th graders:  “Find a club or clubs that you can involve yourself in.  It makes school much more enjoyable to have a close group of people with common interests to spend time with.  Also getting 8+ hours of sleep per night can radically improve your mental state each day.”
  • Bradley Smith wants to study science for his undergraduate degree, possibly biochemistry at Berkeley, then continue to medical school to specialize in neurology.  Ultimately, he wants to work in a hospital helping people.  His advice to freshmen:  “Join debate.  Don’t be afraid of difficulty.  Study.  Think about things conceptually, and in context, rather than memorizing.  Have friends!!!  And don’t be afraid of caffeine – realistically, it is your friend.”
  • Blake Woodford is planning to pursue an aerospace degree, on a full four-year scholarship under Air Force ROTC – Type 1.  His goal is to attend MIT and eventually go into a test pilot school as an officer.  Advice:  “Take the hardest classes you can your sophomore year or you are at a disadvantage in college admissions.  Do a sport through the school even if you don’t think you’re athletic.  Support the school at home games.  Enjoy Life!!  Don’t spend all your time studying or working.  Do something for fun.”
  • Jerry Zhu plans to attend a four-year college and major in math or science.  He wants to attend medical school and become a family doctor.  Advice to 9th graders:  “Stay on top of your work and focus on what you like!  Don’t feel pressured to take on more than you can handle.”


Congratulations Class of 2020 Wildcats!


On October 16, dubbed “Super Wednesday,” all Snoqualmie Valley School District high school students – at both Mount Si High School and Two Rivers Big Picture High School -- will have the opportunity to experience college-prep exams, paid for by the district, and administered during the school day.

  • All juniors will take the PSAT/NMSQT® in order to prepare them for the SAT and post-high school educational goals, from which they will be eligible for National Merit recognition and scholarships (per the story above).
  • All sophomores and freshmen will take practice PSAT exams from the College Board. This is the third year that our school district is offering these opportunities to help all students become familiar and comfortable with college admissions type exams.
  • NEW this fall: All seniors now have the opportunity to take the official SAT exam during the school day – at their school – free of charge.  For the first time, our district has made arrangements to proctor this official exam at Mount Si High School, during school hours, and is covering the test fee.  By bringing the exam to our community and covering the SAT costs, the district is working to remove barriers that might otherwise prohibit some students from this experience. It’s another way we want to ensure all students can access opportunities to help them pursue their future goals of college and careers.

For more details about Super Wednesday in SVSD, October 16, please click here.


For information regarding the College Board/PSAT & National Merit scholarship program, go to: