Meet our 2021 National Merit Students

Holy Family Catholic High School is proud to announce the 2021 National Merit Scholarship program recognizes three of our seniors. Seniors Lauren Taylor and Gregory Stoffel are 2021 National Merit Semifinalists, and senior Joseph Freitas is a National Merit Commended Student. Out of 1.5 million entrants, roughly 34,000 earn Commended Students recognition, and about 16,000 earn Semifinalists recognition. The majority of semifinalists will advance to National Merit Finalists in February, an honor granted to just 1%  of the 1.5 million students who enter the competition by taking the PSAT test in their junior year.

UPDATE: Lauren and Greg were announced as National Merit Finalist in February 2021.

To learn more about the National Merit Scholarship program, click here.

We wanted to know more about how they prepared for the PSAT/NMSQT and what factors, both in school and outside of it, contributed to them achieving this level of academic success.

Lauren Taylor

2021 National Merit Semifinalist Lauren Taylor

HFCHS Activities: Mock Trial, Tennis, Math League, Student Council, Honor Society, Fire Ambassadors

How did you prepare for the PSAT?

I went through the practice test that Holy Family gave us in small parts to familiarize myself with the test. Other than that, I got a good sleep and ate a healthy breakfast on the morning of the test.

What types of Holy Family courses assisted in the preparation process?

I feel that all of the classes I have taken helped prepare me for the test by creating good study habits and test-taking skills. I am so grateful to every teacher that I have had, and I hope that I have made them proud. Specifically, my English and Math courses strengthened my knowledge in these areas for the test.

Rigorous academic course loads can be very stressful; how do you deal with that stress, and what advice do you have for students  going through similar situations?

With my “Type A” personality, I find it helpful to keep a planner with everything that I have to get done. I also watch Netflix while I do my homework, which seems like it would be distracting, but it helps me focus better and stay relaxed. My advice for other students is to be proactive and try to get all of your work done as soon as it is assigned. Also, do not be afraid to ask your teachers when you need help; I spent part of my birthday last year in the cafeteria getting help from Mr. Walker on AP Chem.

What makes you most proud about being a National Merit finalist?

After pushing myself for the past few years, it feels great to have my hard work recognized. I am proud to be grouped with other students that share my same passion for learning.

What will you miss the most after you graduate from Holy Family?

After I graduate from HF, I will miss the people and the community the most. I know that everyone inside the building has my back, and it truly feels like a family. I can only hope that I find something even remotely similar to that in college and for the rest of my life.


Gregory Stoffel

2021 National Merit Finalist Greg Stoffel

How did you prepare for the PSAT?

I took a practice test to help understand the general format. The main part that prepared me was studying for the ACT because these two tests are very similar.

Rigorous academic course loads can be very stressful; how do you deal with that stress, and what advice do you have for students going through similar situations?

I deal with stress by looking at the bigger picture, and I learn what is really important. Stress often comes when I have a lot going on at the start of a new season, so I try to take it one step at a time. Making to-do lists help relieve stress, and talking with friends helps as well.

What makes you most proud about being a National Merit finalist?

The part that makes me the most proud is that only 1% qualify after taking this test. I am one of very few, and it is an honor to be a part of it.

What will you miss the most after you graduate from Holy Family?

After high school, the part I will miss the most is the friendships that I have made here. I know that I will always remember the lessons I learned here; I will miss Mr. Dwyer’s lectures in A.P. Biology, Mr. Kannel’s cookies, and so much more.

 


Joseph Freitas

2021 National Merit Commended Student Joseph Freitas

HFCHS Activities: Band, Math League, Track and Field

What types of Holy Family courses assisted in the preparation process?

Throughout my school career, English classes have taught me standard conventions of grammar to use on the PSAT, reading comprehension skills, and math classes, especially pre-calculus, which helped develop quantitative reasoning skills necessary for the math portions.

Rigorous academic course loads can be very stressful; how do you deal with that stress, and what advice do you have for students going through similar situations?

The main way I deal with the stress of a heavy course load is simply doing all homework as soon as possible so that the workload does not build up over time. Also, I make sure to study for every test and try my best on every assignment. My advice would be not to procrastinate and to do something rejuvenating after a long day of work, such as a bike ride or

What makes you most proud about being a National Merit finalist?

The most satisfying thing about being a National Merit commended student is that achieving this distinction in Minnesota requires you to be in the top one percent of test-takers in the nation and, therefore, at the very top of the academic world. I am most proud of this exclusivity and the fact that only one out of a hundred people can achieve this distinction.

What will you miss the most after you graduate from Holy Family?

I will miss this school’s small, communal feel due to it only having about 500 students.


Interested in learning more about Holy Family?

Please join us for a Fire Family Visit. Fire Family Visits are socially-distanced, small group, on-campus information sessions with personalized tours led by our student ambassadors. Click on the link below to find the time and date that works best for your family and then reserve your seats! See you soon.

Register for a Fire Family Visit

Barth Receives Community Star Award

Holy Family junior Jack Barth is one of nine recipients of the 2020 Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Upper Midwest Community Star Award. This award, introduced for the 2020 RMHC Gala, recognizes young people who are dedicated to the organization’s cause. These recipients have gone above and beyond to embody the Ronald McDonald House values of respect for every individual, excellence in all you do, and compassion for those in need. 

Jack first became involved with the Ronald McDonald House in eighth grade. He immediately saw the value of helping his community members. When asked why he chose this charity he said, “I felt an instant connection to this organization because my uncle and his family needed to use a home like this when he was sick with cancer. It was so good for his family to be able to be together during [such a] hard time.”

Jack is a member of Holy Family’s Honor Society which promotes and celebrates volunteering with non-profit organizations beyond campus borders. His membership with the honor society inspired Jack to invest a significant number of hours at the Ronald McDonald House in Minneapolis. There he cooked for guests, worked in the yard, and assisted with food drives. When he’s not volunteering, Jack plays on the Holy Family hockey team.

Membership in Holy Family’s honor society is not Jack’s only motivation to volunteer. For Jack, the real reward is “knowing that the work I do actually makes a difference in the lives of people living there… Volunteering at the Ronald McDonald House has made me a kinder, more empathic, and compassionate person. I hope to remain involved with the organization throughout my life.”

Click HERE to learn more about Holy Family’s Honor Society.