Meet the 2020 National Merit Finalists

A record-breaking total of twenty-nine students were chosen from AMHS this year.

Recently, a list of National Merit Finalists was announced, representing students with outstanding test scores on the October 2018 PSAT. From Academic Magnet, twenty-nine students from the class of 2020 were selected. This represents a record number for both the school and any school in the state. 

PSAT scores range from 320 to 1520 with an additional statistic deemed a “score index” that is created by adding each section score and multiplying the sum by two. In each state, the top 1% of students are selected to be Semifinalists based on these score indexes. To qualify in South Carolina this year, students had to receive a score index of 215 or higher. We decided to sit down with each of Magnet’s Semifinalists and learn a little bit about them.

Caelen J. Bailey

I am president of Ecology Club (please compost!) as well as Book Club here at AMHS, and I founded a program through this club to help middle schoolers from underrepresented schools in the county prepare for the AMHS writing sample.

Cademon B. Bitting

I enjoy playing football and am a member of Movie Mania Club, and AMHS Spirit Week is one of my favorite parts about our school. I don’t consider myself an academic person. (Editor’s note: but I did end a quarter of Algebra II with a 105 average.)

Christian W. Blackburn

I am a part of the jazz band here at AMHS, and I work at a camp in the summertime where I get to teach kids about aquatics and ecology. I am also a member of the Mount Pleasant Presbyterian Church and love to do mission work in Honduras.

Molly M. Dickerson

I have played varsity soccer since freshman year and intern at a physical therapy practice here in Charleston. I also founded Mind Over Matter Club because I know Magnet is really stressful and on top of that, a lot of us have other things going on that we have to deal with, whether it’s illness, anxiety, or family issues. Therefore, we do mindfulness activities to learn how to deal with stress and to be more present where we are, and we can see that we’re not alone in our struggles. I’ve loved getting to see everyone come together and support each other!

Sophia Discolo

My favorite snack is Extra Toasty Cheez-Its, and my favorite activity is speeding. I also love the scent of fresh laundry and fresh asphalt. My biggest fears are heights and chalk, and I want zero children in the future.

Josephine R. Drake

I have played tennis for about eight years now both outside of school and for the AMHS team, and I also enjoy playing the piano. I am a member of Mu Alpha Theta, National Honor Society, and Spanish National Honor Society, and my middle name is Whitewine. Just kidding, it’s Redwine.

Vivian S. D’Souza

I am in Vocal Ensemble, and I also run cross country and track and love to tutor in my spare time. I failed my permit test the first time, and, in sixth grade, I stepped on a nail and had to be rolled around in a wheelchair for a week.

Gabrielle A. Gagnon

I lead K-Pop Club after joining last year, and I have participated in chorus club since I was a freshman. I began to lead it last year because I’m passionate about singing and sharing music with others. I’ve volunteered for the Summer SAIL Camp for the last three years and love working with kids!

Robert K. Gourdie

I am the president of Young Democrats this year, and I am a member of National Honor Society, French National Honor Society, Mu Alpha Theta, and Spectrum. I also run track and am the captain of the cross country team, and I was able to intern for Joe Cunningham last summer and have started getting involved in volunteering for Planned Parenthood recently. I love politics, chemistry, dancing, and being gay, and I can store vast amounts of dark energy in my bone marrow.

Michael L. Hammer 

I enjoy running cross country, love economics and the stock market, and am sometimes religiously active.

Jennifer E. Hsu

I am new to AMHS this year, and I am involved in Surf Club, Science Olympiad, Speech and Debate Club, and Asian Awareness. I also love to play tennis and the cello.

Brendan S. Kelleher

I am a Mayor’s Youth Commission member, a cashier at Publix, and a member of Mu Alpha Theta, National Honor Society, and Spanish National Honor Society. I also run a non-profit LLC and play basketball. One time, I posted a video on YouTube that has about 23,000 views!

Richard T. Keys

As many of you know, I am the school mascot. I also love teaching middle schoolers about weightlifting and collect plastic skeletons that I set up as dioramas.

Ameen M. Khan

I love cybersecurity, as well as learning languages (I can read Arabic, Russian, and Latin, to name a few).

William C. Kronsberg

I am the president of Movie Mania Club as well as an officer in Key Club and JSC and the announcer for the AMHS varsity baseball team. I’ve technically also been a member of the AMHS Academic Team for 5+ years.

Sabrina K. Lawrence

I’ve been dancing since I was seven years old, doing classical ballet, jazz, and contemporary styles. I can also play the ukulele!

Davis J. Leath

Outside of school, I work with kids at Meeting Street Academy and love to get on the water as much as possible.

Jonathan T. Lemon

I manage a record label and am involved in music production and wrestling for AMHS. I can also do a front flip.

Allison M. Li

Some of my extracurriculars include being a book cover designer, a creative writer, and an intern at MUSC doing research with digital pathology. The only bone I’ve ever broken is my thumb! 

Caroline E. Lucas

I’m on the sailing team for AMHS, and I like to teach Dutch in my free time.

Ellyn L. Marino

I enjoy playing the guitar, and I am a member of the Mayor’s Youth Commission, National Honor Society, Spanish National Honor Society, and Social Studies National Honor Society. Also, I have eaten a rabbit before– and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Samuel A. Rosenberg

When I was little, my brother convinced me that the beer company, Samuel Adams, was named after me. My actual name is Samuel Aaron, so he simultaneously convinced me my middle name was different than it really is. I am a member of Jewish Student Connection, Student News, Academic Team, Interfaith Exchanges, and Meeting Street Academy Tutoring.

Shreyon Roy

I am a member of Mu Alpha Theta, Academic Team, National Honor Society, and Spanish National Honor Society. I also love making origami in my free time. 

Michelle Sun

I am a part of SeaPerch Underwater Robotics Club, Science Club, and Meeting Street Academy Tutoring. I also love to play the piano, and I am ambidextrous.

Dhillon R. Wegner

I play soccer here at AMHS, and something interesting about me is that my left thumb just does not work.

Sophia C. Wilson

In the future, I really want to work for Disney as an Imagineer and make roller coasters. I am a co-treasurer of Spanish National Honor Society, vice president of National Social Studies Honor Society, and a leader of FCA. I am also a member of National Honor Society and a peer mentor.

Sophia Zhang

I am a member of Science Olympiad and Mu Alpha Theta, and I love creating art and playing the piano as well. I am an avid believer in sleep but, nonetheless, irresponsibly practice sleep culture.

Claire A. Kunkle

I’m a member of the book club, and I also work with the Reading Partners Program Summer Camp at Fishburne Center downtown. I work at Vacation Bible School with preschoolers every summer as well.

Amber Z. Tu

I am an avid C-Pop fan, and I tried to avoid being in this article at all costs.