For the first time in its history, Mount Sinai High School earned the distinction of having two National Merit Scholarship Program finalists in its ranks.
Seniors Kayla McFadden and Aaron Angress were named finalists earlier last month.
“When we first found out it was definitely a big moment for us,” McFadden said. “We were pretty taken aback that we made it so far and that there are two of us.”
“Stay true to who you are, stick to what you have been doing and you will definitely find some opportunities.”
— Kayla McFadden
Angress added that it was a great honor to be selected.
The process of becoming a finalist began when they took the Preliminary SAT.
“This wasn’t really on our radar until our junior year, when our teachers started to tell us that your PSAT [score] can get you this scholarship,” McFadden said.
In September 2019, the duo were named semifinalists in the competition for scoring in the top 1 percent of all juniors completing the PSAT in October 2018.
In addition to test scores and maintaining grades, the students had to send in an application which included writing an essay, school activities they’ve been involved in and awards they won, among other things.
Angress plays saxophone and went to All-States for the first time. He is the class secretary and is a member of the oceanography team that will be going to nationals later this year.
McFadden has been a member of the cross-country and winter and spring track teams since her freshman year, and she plays violin in the school’s orchestra and has been dancing since she was three years old.
The seniors will now compete for a number of scholarships which will be offered and announced later this month. They can be awarded three types of scholarships: a $2,500 National Merit Scholarship, Corporate-Sponsored Merit Scholarships and College-Sponsored Merit Scholarships.
Angress said he would like to pursue mechanical or aerospace engineering when he goes to college next fall.
“I’m still waiting to hear back on nine [admission] decisions to come over the next month, but of the schools I’ve been accepted to, I’d probably want to go to Northeastern,” he said.
McFadden said she wants to study biology and pursue either premedicine or something in genetics.
“I’m waiting to hear back on four decisions still, but of the ones I’ve been accepted to and deciding between is Quinnipiac [University], Binghamton University and Stony Brook University,” she said.
Peter Pramataris, Mount Sinai High School principal, couldn’t have been more proud of the duo.
“I’ve been in education for 24 years, but in my opinion, you can’t find two better quality character kids,” he said. “They are really well rounded, and it is a testament to their families — it really makes me proud to call them Mount Sinai High School students.”
The two students gave their advice to fellow peers who might want to compete for the prestigious scholarship.
“Stay true to who you are, stick to what you have been doing and you will definitely find some opportunities,” McFadden said.
Angress said it is important to take the process seriously and he would advise students to start preparing ahead of time.
Pramataris said he is excited to see what the future holds for the two students.
“We can’t wait to hear about their future accomplishments, because I know they are going to have a ton of them,” he said.