Continuing the tradition of honoring the outstanding academic and athletic achievements of Diocesan high school students, Bishop Ronald Gainer hosted a luncheon at the Diocesan Center in Harrisburg on April 7 for finalists and commended students in the National Merit Scholarship program, as well as two state champions in their respective sports.
These luncheons with the bishop celebrate Catholic schools’ mission of forming the whole person, in body, mind and spirit.
This year’s National Merit Finalists are Lucas Puig and Zachary Varner of Trinity High School in Camp Hill.
Lucas Puig is a member of St. Joseph Parish in Mechanicsburg. He is on the cross country and track teams, is one of Trinity’s two School Captains and is the President of the school’s National Honor Society. Lucas’ college plans include attending either MIT or the U.S. Military Academy at West Point to major in the STEM field.
Zachary Varner is a member of the All-State Band, and the Math, Spanish, Music and National Honor Societies. He is currently deciding between Carnegie Mellon, The University of Virginia, Case Western Reserve University, Pennsylvania State University, The University of Wisconsin-Madison, and the University of Oklahoma. He intends to major in biomedical engineering with an additional major or minor in computer science.
All winners of Merit Scholarship awards are chosen from the Finalist group based on their abilities, skills, and accomplishments, including academic record, information about the school’s curriculum and grading system, PSAT/NMSQT Selection Index score, the high school official’s written recommendation, information about the student’s activities and leadership, and the Finalist’s own essay.
This year’s National Merit Commended students are Pradham Bathini, Catherine Anne Chambers, Ethanson Le, Tuan Vu and Erin Batchelor of Trinity High School in Camp Hill; Ansley Ryan, Joel Olmsted and Vivian Klemmer of Lancaster Catholic High School; and Darin Gulibon of Bishop McDevitt High School in Camp Hill. Commended students are recognized for their outstanding academic promise. Although commended students do not continue in the competition for National Merit scholarships, some of these students do become candidates for special scholarships sponsored by corporations and businesses. Bishop Gainer and Mr. Breen congratulated the commended students at this year’s luncheon.
PIAA state champions Kari Powell and Riley Robell were also recognized at the gathering. Kari, a junior at Trinity High School, is the two-time 100 Breaststroke State Champion in swimming. She attended Corpus Christi School in Chambersburg, and
believes that part of her educational experience has been to be purposeful with service hours. She has gravitated to helping out at various times in different soup kitchens and serving meals at churches.
Riley, a junior at Bishop McDevitt High School, finished the wrestling season with a record of 40-1, winning a District 2A III and PIAA 2A gold medal in 285lbs. heavyweight division. Riley also helped lead the Bishop McDevitt Wrestling Team to a District III 2A Team Championship and PIAA Elite 8 finish. He is a three-time District III champion in wrestling, and is a member of the Crusader Football team. As a two-way starter, he helped lead the team to a District III 4A Team Championship and PIAA 4A silver medal.
(Photos by Chris Heisey, The Catholic Witness.)