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NK seniors nab national honors

POULSBO — North Kitsap High School seniors Courtney Fraser and Jonah Bomgaars were both pleasantly surprised when they heard the unexpected news.

In early September, the dynamic studious duo discovered they were named 2008 National Merit Scholarship semi-finalists. Fraser and Bomgaars entered the 2008 National Merit program by taking the 2006 preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT) as juniors, which served as initial screen of program entrants.

More than 1.4 million juniors in nearly 21,000 high schools took the initial qualifying test. The nationwide pool of semi-finalists represents less than one percent of high school seniors in the United States.

“We’re in the 99th percentile,” Bomgaars said with a smile. “I’m pretty good at taking tests. I didn’t expect it, but it’s an honor to be a semi-finalist.”

Fraser said she was confident about her chances of performing well on the PSAT/NMSQT test.

“I love taking standardized tests. There’s something about No. 2 pencils and bubble sheets,” she said. “I was pretty surprised, though, about it.”

Bomgaars scored a 221 out of 240, while Fraser scored a 218 out of 240. Each will discover if they’re a National Merit Scholarship finalist in December.

“Its based on SAT scores, application, essays and counselor recommendations,” he said.

Bomgaars and Fraser have achieved high marks in academics since their days together at Suquamish Elementary School.

“We’ve known each other since elementary school and were both part of Agate (Alternatives for Gifted, Accelerated and Talented Education program),” Fraser said. “We basically grew up together.”

The Agate program was taught by Suquamish Elementary School fifth grade teacher Jan Kragen and is reserved for academically gifted students, she said.

“Mrs. Kragen is a great teacher. She teaches students how to think and how to be a student and developed my analytical skills,” she said. “It was an enriching experience.”

Bomgaars said the majority of the children enrolled in the Agate program as elementary students six or seven years ago are still at the top of their classes today.

“The names of students with top scores is a very familiar list,” he said. “It’s nice to see so many of my classmates I’ve grown up with doing well.”

Both NMS semi-finalists have big plans for the future. Fraser plans on attending Reid College in September 2008, where she will work to earn a bachelor’s degree in English and political science. Bomgaars said he plans on staying close to home, attending the University of Washington while pursuing a degree in history and philosophy.

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