County has 16 National Merit semifinalists

The Baltimore Sun

Eleven students from six Anne Arundel County public high schools have been selected as semifinalists in the 2008 National Merit Scholarship competition, nearly double the number who achieved the distinction a year ago.

Five more come from the county's five private high schools: four from Archbishop Spalding High in Severn and one from Key School in Annapolis.

Anne Arundel County public schools had six National Merit Scholarship semifinalists last year. This year, Severna Park High School alone has four.

This year's semifinalists are:

Severna Park High School: Mary Huang, Robert A. Minter, Peter T. Thompson and Victoria J. Vidal;

Old Mill High School: Elleena M. Grove, Eric C. Lynn and Anne E. Thompson;

Annapolis High School: Stephen C. Guth;

Broadneck High School: John C. Fernandes;

Chesapeake High School: Matthew G. Phipps;

Southern High School: Victoria Jones.

"This is tremendously exciting news and speaks volumes both for our students and the teachers and staff at our schools who work so hard with them," county schools Superintendent Kevin M. Maxwell said. "I am very excited that these 11 students are getting such distinctive recognition and the opportunity for a college scholarship for their years of hard work."

At Archbishop Spalding High School in Severn, Peter Barna of Millersville, Robert Paul Inglis of Annapolis, Abigail Wagner of Arnold and Morgan Welch of Sherwood Forest have been named semifinalists.

Key's semifinalist is William Biche of Annapolis.

Semifinalists in the competition, which is overseen by the National Merit Scholarship Corp., were selected from more than 1.4 million juniors in nearly 21,000 U.S. high schools who were top scorers on the 2005 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT).

About 90 percent of the semifinalists will advance to finalist status based on criteria such as academic record, recommendation by school principal, SAT performance and participation and leadership in school and community activities.

Every finalist will be considered for one of the 2,500 National Merit scholarships worth $2,500 each. In addition, about 300 corporations and business organizations will provide about 1,100 corporate-sponsored scholarships for finalists who meet specific criteria. About 200 colleges and universities are expected to finance roughly 4,600 more Merit Scholarship awards for finalists who will attend the sponsoring institutions.

Council to receive lessons on budget

The Anne Arundel County Board of Education will host a three-hour workshop next week for members of the County Council on the construction of the school system budget.

The workshop will be divided into sessions on the capital and operating budgets. School system staff will provide an overview of the process -- from departmental reviews to decisions by the superintendent to adoption by the board -- and the many factors, such as state and federal mandates, that are taken into consideration.

Members of the council will have the opportunity to ask questions about the process.

"This workshop is aimed at bringing us to a point where the County Council better understands what we're trying to accomplish with our budget," Board of Education President Tricia Johnson said. "There has been a lot of misunderstanding about our budget, and we want to try to eliminate as much of that as possible as we move forward. We are all partners in the education of our children."

The workshop will take place from 9 a.m. to noon Sept. 24 in the boardroom of the Parham Building, 2644 Riva Road, Annapolis. It is open to the public, but no testimony will be taken.

Public hearing on capital spending

The Anne Arundel County Board of Education will take public testimony Wednesday evening on Superintendent Kevin M. Maxwell's recommended six-year capital improvement plan.

The plan, which includes a $185.7 million capital budget for fiscal 2009, charts the course for maintenance and renovation projects through fiscal 2014.

Wednesday's meeting begins at 7 p.m. in the boardroom at the Parham Building, 2644 Riva Road, Annapolis. Speakers will be limited to three minutes.

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