Back row: Principal Shawn Wheatley with National Merit semifinalists Samuel Roberts, Logan Crum, Andrew Thibaudeau and Spencer Henderson. Front row: Anna McCain, Lauren Petrey, Thomas Mangione (Commended Scholar) and Headmistress Cheryl Lowe. (Photo courtesy of Highlands Latin School.)

Not too long ago, I wrote a post advocating that student scholars be recognized with the same media approbation as student athletes.

Something Brian Lowe was happy to remind me of a few days ago:

Hi Terry,

I think I remember an article a few years ago where you said you wished students were recognized for their academics the same way they are recognized for athletics. This always stuck in my mind to send you a release about the academics at Highlands Latin School.

This year, we had 6 National Merit Semifinalists and 1 Commended student out of 16 seniors. (44%) That is a pretty amazing accomplishment for these students and a result of their hard work. (The odds of this happening by chance are 1 in 300 million.)…

Brian Lowe
Highlands Latin School

Seven of 16 total Highlands Latin School seniors recognized in the National Merit competition as among the brightest 50,000 students in a nation of 310 million! Mr. Lowe should be proud, as these are our future thinkers and doers.

The National Merit Scholarship Corp. is a Chicago-based nonprofit created in 1955 to recognize top U.S. scholars in hopes of increasing support for education and to manage support for undergrad scholarships.

High school students enter the National Merit Program by taking the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test — a test that serves as an initial screen of approximately 1.5 million entrants each year — and by meeting program entry and participation requirements, according to the NMSC website.

Of the 1.5 million entrants, some 50,000 with the highest PSAT/NMSQT Selection Index scores (critical reading plus mathematics plus writing skills scores) qualify for recognition in the National Merit Scholarship Program, according the website. Semifinalists comprise less than 1 percent of U.S. high school seniors.

In September, these high scorers are notified through their schools that they have qualified as either a “Commended Student” or semifinalist.

Highlands Latin semifinalists in the 2015 National Merit Scholarship competition are:

• Logan Crum

• Spencer Henderson

• Anna McCain

• Lauren Petrey

• Samuel Roberts

• Andrew Thibaudeau

Thomas Mangione is a Commended Student.

Highlands Latin School is only 15 years old, but its classical, Christian curriculum has produced outstanding results, Lowe said in a news release. Recent Highlands Latin graduates have attended Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Princeton, Notre Dame, Vanderbilt, the United States Military Academy West Point, the University of Virginia and the U.S. Naval Academy. (One wonders what percent of these high achievers will return.)

Highlands Latin School is true to its name. Students study Latin starting in second grade and Greek starting in seventh grade, according to the release. By their senior years, they are able to read from Caesar, Cicero, Vergil and the Vulgate in the original language.

HLS Headmistress Cheryl Lowe said in the release the secret to the school’s success is simple: Latin, Greek, mathematics and music “train the mind, along with the careful reading of literature and history.”

From the release:

“Our goal is to give students the same classical education that was the norm in the German and British schools at the turn of the last century. Those schools produced the greatest scientific minds of the 20th century, Einstein, Planck, Bohr, Rutherford, etc. as well as the great Christian scholar, C.S. Lewis, ” said Cheryl Lowe.

In 15 years, Highlands Latin School has grown from one Latin class in Mrs. Lowe’s living room to a K-12 classical, Christian school with 615 students at two campuses. Highlands Latin School has led to the establishment of sister schools in Lexington and Indianapolis as well as about a dozen other schools across the country.