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KS Kapālama National Merit Scholars. Front row (L to R): Sarah Sonomura, Emily Stone, Michelle Murata, Keola Ching. Back row: Ashley Parker, Jade Ishii, Aya Chang, Mason Akiona.

Students honored for National Merit academic achievements

Feb. 13, 2018

Contributed by Shaundor Chillingworth

Nine Kamehameha Schools seniors were recognized as 2017 National Merit Scholars this year. Four of the students were designated as program semifinalists and five as commended students. Eight of the students attend KS Kapālama and one at KS Hawaiʻi.


Aya Chang, Keola Ching, Jade Ishii, and Michelle Murata

Commended Students

Mason Akiona, Anuhea Lee(KSH), Ashley Parker, Sarah Sonomura, and Emily Stone

The National Merit Scholarship Program(NMSP) is an academic competition for recognition and scholarships that began in 1955. High school students enter the National Merit Program by taking the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test(PSAT/NMSQT)—which serves as an initial screen of approximately 1.6 million entrants each year—and by meeting published program entry and participation requirements.

The students earned this distinction based on their performance on their 2016 PSATs.  Of the 1.6 million entrants, only 50,000, or three percent, qualify for recognition in the NMSP. Of those 50,000 high scorers, the top 15,000, or one percent, receive the distinction of semifinalists. 

For this yearʻs NMSP, the minimum qualifying score was 211, which is calculated by doubling the sum of the reading, writing and language, and math Test scores. This month, semifinalists will find out whether or not they will be named finalists, and in March through mid-June if they have been selected to receive a Merit Scholarship award.

Each campus took a different approach to recognize their students.

KS Kapālama held its tradtional banquet at Hale Pelekikena for students, their families, administrators and a significant staff member that each student had chosen to recognize for their contributions and impact in getting them to this point in their journey. After words of welcome and a delicious dinner, students were recognized one by one and then revealed which kumu they had invited and the title of a book they each chose to present as a makana to that kumu.

KS Hawaiʻi chose a surprise approach to recognize Lee. Under the guise of needing to report to the Pauahi Administration Building, Lee was greated by school leadership, counselors and her mom to offer their congratulations and words of support on why she deserved this recognition.

This achievement is significant for students and places them within the top percentages of students academically. It is a testament to their hard work and perseverance and to the support they receive from their families and kumu.

For more information on the NMSP, visit

KS Hawaiʻi National Merit Commended Student Anuhea Lee received the news of her recognition in a surprise presentation by campus administrators.

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