Fewer than one percent of seniors nationwide earned this honor

Two students from McAllen ISD have earned national recognition.

Gabriel Ramirez of McAllen High and Calvin Beck of McAllen Memorial High are among less than one percent of high school seniors in the country to be named National Merit Scholar Finalists.

Both young men are participants in the district’s International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme.

“It’s a testament to their hard work and everything they do in and out of the classroom,” McAllen ISD Superintendent Dr. J.A. Gonzalez, praising their teachers also, said. “We are very proud.”

Only about 15,000 students nationwide earn this designation.

“This is a great honor,” Ramirez said. “We have fantastic teachers that really encourage their students.”

These academically talented students now continue in the National Merit Scholarship Corporation competition for some 7,500 National Merit Scholarships worth about $33 million that will be offered later this spring.

About 1.6 million juniors in more than 22,000 high schools entered the 2017 National Merit Scholarship Program by taking the 2015 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT®), which served as an initial screening of program entrants. The nationwide pool of finalists, representing less than one percent of U.S. high school seniors, includes the highest-scoring entrants in each state.

A finalist must have an outstanding academic record, 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.

Ramirez and Beck were each named semifinalists last fall. This is the 15th time in the past 16 years, the district has produced at least one semifinalist in this national program.