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Seven Park City High School seniors named finalists for National Merit Scholarship

 Park City High School seniors and National Merit Scholarship Finalists (left to right): Oliver Moore, James Kwan, Alex Kuck, Dominik Jamrich, Case Schemmer, William Shuflit, and Zack Aldous.
Parker Malatesta
Park City High School seniors and National Merit Scholarship finalists (left to right): Oliver Moore, James Kwan, Alex Kuck, Dominik Jamrich, Case Schemmer, William Shuflit, and Zack Aldous.

A record seven seniors at Park City High School were named finalists for the National Merit Scholarship this month.

Zack Aldous, Oliver Moore, Dominik Jamrich, Alex Kuck, James Kwan, Case Schemmer, and William Shuflit received certificates from Park City High School Principal Roger Arbabi Monday morning notifying them of their finalist status.

The National Merit Scholarship Program was established in 1955 at the beginning of the Cold War scientific race between the U.S. and the Soviet Union.

Out of 1.5 million initial applications, students are weeded out through SAT scores, personal essays, and reviews of their general performance in academics and extracurriculars.

Out of 15,000 finalists, just over 7,000 will be chosen for a variety of merit scholarship awards, from $2,500 to full undergraduate tuition.

Arbabi said the students making it to this final stage are considered in the top 0.001% academically.

“To have seven national merit finalists is pretty incredible, I’ve never been in a school that has had that many,” said Arbabi, who’s been principal at Park City High for five years.

“These guys work really, really hard, and I’m just really proud of the entire school district because it takes a lot of work for the students and for the staff to be able to get them to this point.”

Schemmert called it a big honor to be recognized for both standardized test results and creative writing. He hasn’t finalized where he’s going to college yet, but he’s set on majoring in computer science.

“After undergrad — post-grade and doctorate," Schemmert said of his future plans.

"I’d really like to be kind of on the forefront advancing the field. Less industry focused, less making a product, more research driven, how can we push the frontier of computer science... Definitely looking into the field of quantum computing — so how can we apply quantum physics principles into hardware and software.” 

Aldous said the recognition helps him live up to the expectations of his sister, who graduated from Park City a few years back. He credited his science and math teachers with helping him get to this point. Aldous is likely heading to the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, but is still waiting to hear back from some Ivy League schools.

“Right now I’m thinking aerospace engineering, although I might go into their naval architecture engineering program, pretty unique,” Aldous said. “Really opens a lot of avenues for me but I’d like to go into supersonic flight I think, do some studying with that… One thing that I have been thinking about is just sustainability with flight because it’s such a massive impact on the environment.”

Finalists will be notified about whether they’ve won starting in April.