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BSHS students listed among the nation’s best

February 15, 2012

Shermila Kher, left, was recognized as a National Merit Scholar finalist and Lacy McMurtrey as a commended performer during ceremonies at Big Spring High School Tuesday. (HERALD photo/Amanda Moreno)

Two elite seniors are gracing the halls of Big Spring High School.

Shermila Kher — who was named a National Merit Scholar finalist — and Lacy McMurtrey — National Merit Scholar commended performer — have been named among the top 50,000 students in the nation.

National Merit Scholars are determined by the scores of the PSATs taken during the junior year of high school.

Students are able to take the PSATs as early as freshmen and sophomores in order to review their scores and continue to improve on them in order to prepare for the junior year, when the National Scholar program takes the scores.

This year, there were 1.5 million entries and both girls were ranked amongst the top 50,000 students nationwide. McMurtrey was ranked among the top 34,000 as commended performers and Kher was ranked among the top 15,000 as a finalist. Both students were honored during a special ceremony held Valentine's Day.

“It feels good that all the hard work pays off in the end,” McMurtrey said.

McMurtrey attributed part of her success to not only her parents, but several teachers throughout her high school career, including, Kelly Ralston, freshman English and Wendy Glaze.

“I had a memorable time with Mrs. Glaze she got to know me on a personal level,” McMurtrey said. “My parents also helped me and always made sure I had my homework done. It's nice to know that working hard for a long time gets recognized and you think about the other kids and if they are thinking the same thing,” McMurtrey said.

Kher also had a group of teachers made an impact along the way,

“My debate team, Mr. (Clint) Adams and Mrs. (Jennifer) Adams, have coached me since I was a sophomore when I came to Big Spring. Without them providing a place to go at the end of the day and without debate tournaments to look forward to, I'm not sure I would have been able to get as far as I have through the year ... My mom has always supported me and always been there no matter what my goals were but never pressured me, but always made me feel like I could succeed.”

The honor for Kher was something she had wanted and thought of, but never quite thought she would get this far.

“It feels pretty good. I didn't think I would make it this far. My mom was always sure I would be a finalist but I never really thought it was going to happen,” Kher said. “Makes me feel really good and makes me wonder if the other kids are like me.”

Harvard and other ivy league schools have shown interest in both girls, according to Mike Ritchey, Big Spring High School principal.

“This is something that just doesn't happen everyday at Big Spring High School,” Ritchey said.

Scholarships were a big part of the process for both girls. According to Ritchey, because of their academic success, both girls have very prestigious universities seeking them out and offering them some intriguing scholarship packages. A full-tuition package with room and board along with other benefits has been offered to Kher from the University of Alabama. At this moment, she said this is the route she is looking to take.

“Right now I plan on going to the University of Alabama and pursuing political science before I go on to law school,” Kher said.

McMurtrey has also planned a path to take after college.

“I plan on attending Angelo State for physical therapy,” McMurtrey said.
Both girls offered words of advice to their peers. Kher quoted Abraham Lincoln: “Whatever you are be a good one.

“So, even if you aren't the type good at taking a test who wouldn't be a national merit finalist, find whatever it is you are good at and be the best at it.”

McMurtrey offered these words of advice: “Find something you really love to do and that helps you in everything. If you really love to do something, it makes you a better person. It makes you want to work harder than even more than that one thing.”

The last national merit scholar at Big Spring High School was Nathan Smith in 2002. Smith is a graduate of Rice University.

Ritchey expressed his pride in both girls and the honor this designation brings to them, as well as to Big Spring High School.

“Very proud of them and their accomplishments. They are wonderful ambassadors of Big Spring High School and our community. We wish them the very best of luck and no doubt they will be successful in whatever they aspire to become because of their work ethic and because of having no fear of academics,” Ritchey said.

“It means a lot to Big Spring as a school. Big Spring High School and Big Spring, sometimes we just get beat up and undeservedly so and here are two examples of what is happening in our school and in our curricula. Not only is this an accomplishment for our students here but a compliment to our upper-level academics and affirmation to our teachers that the rigor is there and we are on the right track. Otherwise, I don't think we would be having this conversation,” Ritchey added.

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