National Merit Semifinalists

Two graduates from the Class of 2016 have been named National Merit Semifinalists: Natalie Murray and Bridget Hagene! Natalie and Bridget represent less than 1 percent of U.S. high school seniors, which includes the highest-scoring entrants in each state.

To enter the 2020 National Merit Scholarship program, more than 1.5 million juniors from about 21,000 high schools took the 2018 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT®), which served as an initial screen of program entrants.

Natalie Murray is a senior at St. Joseph Academy where she is president of the National English Honor Society as well as the French Honor Society, a member of the varsity softball team and Frontenac Voices, secretary of Earth Angels, involved with St. Joe Theatre and service opportunities. She is grateful for her Academy education and says, “One thing that definitely stood out to me was my ability to be prepared for exams. Taking exams in grade/middle school was so helpful when I got to high school!

Those daunting tests at the end of the semester seemed a lot less scary and much more manageable. In addition, the teachers I had were brilliant, and they and taught me to love and appreciate learning for learning’s sake. I knew they genuinely cared about me (and the rest of my classmates) and not just how we did in their class, but that we thrived in every aspect of our lives as well, and they worked to make every day’s lesson as important and interesting as the last. The combination of my teachers and my amazing classmates made my experience at ASH an extremely memorable part of my life, and I’m so grateful for the opportunity I had to attend the school.” Natalie is the daughter of Primary teacher Paige Murray and her husband, Joe.

Bridget Hagene is a senior at Cor Jesu Academy and is the president of her class. “It’s been an exciting challenge and opportunity for me! I definitely grew as a leader through my time at ASH as well,” she credits. “The high expectations in all aspects helped me to be prepared for my future. I was used to longer classes because of our block schedule in middle school, so it was an easier transition for me into 85-minute classes compared to other girls at school. I was also taught strong study habits at ASH that translated well into the demands of high school. I think the work ethic and social awareness I learned will serve me well in the future.”

In addition, she recognizes that “the Academy’s focus on all aspects of a student/child puts them ahead. I was given the opportunity to learn in a community with strong academics and also caring teachers. I think that the entire ASH community is something very special because of how close-knit and involved the teachers, parents, and students are. The traditions of the Academy also help to keep it united. I built meaningful relationships that I cherish with other students, families, teachers, and administrators, which I think adds a lot of value to ASH.” Bridget is the daughter of Libby and John Hagene.

In February, Natalie and Bridget will learn if they’ve advanced to the finalist level of the National Merit program. We are very proud of these young women and look forward to hearing what their future holds!