AHS Merit simifinalists

Max Lunifeld, Calvin Eng and Mary McManus.

Three Arcadia High seniors were recently named semifinalists for the 66th annual National Merit Scholarship Program. Max Lunifeld, Calvin Eng and Mary McManus are among 16,000 students nationwide to advance in the program, and three out of 14 selected in the Scottsdale Unified School District.

National Merit semifinalists are picked based on their PSAT scores taken during their junior year. Students are then notified in September of their senior years if their scores qualify them to be semifinalists.

“I scored 1510 out of 1520, placing me above the cutoff for the award. From here, I will have to apply with an essay to be considered for finalist status, and ultimately the National Merit Scholarship itself,” Lunifeld said.

The National Merit Scholarship is a $2,500 scholarship awarded to about 7,000 students nationwide every year. These students are selected from the pool of semifinalists based on their applications.

“While the scholarship itself is not a huge amount of money,” Lunifeld said, “the prestige that comes with the award often prompts schools to provide scholarships for applicants that have earned it. Many schools offer half-tuition, free tuition or potentially a free ride for National Merit recipients.”

Lunifeld plans on majoring in biomedical engineering in college and hopes to ultimately earn a master’s degree. 

“I’m looking at several engineering-oriented schools, such as Rice University, USC, Johns Hopkins, UT Austin, Texas A&M, UW and ASU Barrett,” he said. 

Lunifeld was part of the Arcadia Boy Scouts Troop 6, earning his Eagle Scout distinction as a freshman. His project involved installing a bike rack, a small patio and landscaping at a homeless medical clinic called Circle the City.

Eng is also part of Troop 6. For his Eagle Scout project, he planted trees and removed invasive species of plants in the Rio Salado Habitat Restoration Area.

“In the future, I would like to become a professor. I am not sure of where I would like to go to college, but I would like to study a science, most likely biology,” Eng said. 

McManus is currently president of Arcadia’s National Honor Society, whose goal is to serve the community and give back to the school. 

“Recently, most of our volunteering has been virtual K-12 tutoring for all students in the Arcadia learning community. The pandemic has hit students very hard, making school work difficult in many different ways, so we believe this is one of the best and safest ways for us to give back right now,” McManus said. 

She is also a member of Arcadia Unitown, a club working toward ending bigotry and spreading positivity on campus. 

McManus said she’s not sure where she will attend college.

“I would love to be in the New England area, studying psychology and possibly political science as well,” she said. “My goal is to become a professor of psychology and conduct research through a university.”

To continue in the merit competition, the semifinalists must now submit detailed applications that include their academic records, participation in school and community activities, examples of leadership, employment history and honors/awards they have received. 

Congratulations to these scholars!