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The district is pleased to announce that high school senior Athena Yao was named one of the nation’s 16,000 National Merit Scholarship Program Semifinalists in the 65th annual National Merit Scholarship Program competition. Athena will continue to compete for one of 7,500 National Merit Scholarships, which altogether total more than $31 million and which will be announced later this spring.

Athena entered the competition by taking the 2018 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT). The nationwide pool of semifinalists represents 1% of U.S. high school seniors and includes the highest-scoring entrants in each state.

Athena is a National Advanced Placement Scholar, having received an average score of 4 on all AP exams taken and scores of 4 or higher on eight or more of these exams. She is also enrolled in the district’s rigorous AP Capstone program. Athena is tutoring coordinator for the National Honor Society and holds memberships in both the art and science honor societies. She recently garnered the Congressional Art Award and the Scholastic Art and Writing Award and is Team A captain of the Science Olympiad team and a Key Club trustee. Athena co-founded the school’s Minds Matter Club, a social-emotional and mental health awareness forum, and is varsity captain of the girls cross-country team. She is also director of Go Girls Genius Magazine and is a teaching assistant at the Long Island School of Chinese.    

Even more impressive is Athena’s Junior Academy membership with the New York Academy of Sciences, where as a member of an international team of students, garnered the grand prize at the Regeneron and Medidata Genomics Challenge. During the summer, Athena and her team presented their project “Fighting 7,000” at the NYAS’s Global STEM Alliance Summit. “Fighting 7,000” focused on improving the process of rare disease diagnosis, treatment and prevention of 7,000 known rare diseases affecting more than 350 million individuals worldwide.

Athena plans on pursuing a degree in neuroscience after graduating from high school this coming spring.


A Yao