National Merit semifinalists named

More than five dozen Tucson teens have been named National Merit Scholarship semifinalists.

The students, who represent 11 schools, were found to have outstanding academic records throughout high school. They will now have the opportunity to compete for scholarships that will be offered next spring. They are:

  • Mea M. Chiasson, Bodo Lee, Daniela Liera, Luis G. Ortiz, Korina N. Pluss, Matthew Safar, Erika D. Steiner and Jennifer C. Xiao of Basis Oro Valley.
  • Ekow A. Buadu, Brendan W. Hall, Garrett N. Moseke, Bredon R. Poss, Ashwin Raj, Geneva K. Saupe, Mary E. Steele, Eugene M. Wang, Cameron Q. Williams, Kendall T. Yu and Luann M. Zerefa of Basis Tucson North.
  • Claire C. Bergan, Julia L. Crocco, Jack Z. Liu, Jesse Z. Liu, Kara L. Thompson, Meena Venkataramanan and Daniel Wieland of Catalina Foothills High School.
  • Elaine F. Wright of The Gregory School.
  • Emily L. Cherrington of Ironwood Ridge High School.
  • Aaron J. Steele and Anna V. Vekony of Pusch Ridge Christian Academy.
  • Ryan M. Blanchard and Ian J. Hanus of Salpointe Catholic High School.
  • Abrielle S. Agron of Sonoran Science Academy.
  • Christopher M. Altizer of Tanque Verde High School.
  • Caroline S. O’Neill of Tucson High Magnet School.
  • University High students Miranda I. Agnew, Hetty Black, Robert C. Bushell, Erin E. Connolly, Cassidy M. Crone, Robert C. Downs, Alian P. Godoy, Priscilla Y. Han, Zoe M. Holtzman, Damian I. Hubble, Alexandra J. Karaim, Eric Lu, Zakkai S. Markowitz, Owais Noorani-Kamtekar, Natalia E. Orbach-Mandel, Anna M. Peckham, Sean T. Peterson, Clare K. Remy, Ian W. Schwind, Diego Silva-Mendoza, Adrian I. Soto, Jenny Steinberg, Alexandra B. Tash, Jules T. Wyman and Andy Z. Zhou.
  • Home-school students Andrew J. Horwitz and Paul W. Oftedahl.

About 90 percent of the semifinalists named across the country are expected to attain finalist standing. About half of finalists will win scholarships, earning the Merit Scholar title.

Students were considered after taking the 2015 Preliminary SAT, which served as an initial screen of program entrants.

The highest scoring entrants in each state were named semifinalists.

To advance to the finalist level, the student and his or her school must submit a detailed scholarship application documenting their academic record, participation in school and community activities, demonstrated leadership abilities, employment and honor and awards received.

Tucson High reunion tickets on sale

Tickets are on sale for the Tucson High Class of 1976 40th Reunion and All-’70s Class Mixer.

The event is Oct. 22 from 6 to 10 p.m. at Gentle Ben’s Brewing Co., 865 E. University Blvd.

For information or to buy tickets, visit

Compiled by reporter Alexis Huicochea. Contact Alexis at or 573-4175. On Twitter: @AlexisHuicochea

Education writer for #ThisIsTucson. Mom of one.