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NYA Students Recognized by National Merit Scholar Program

Congratulations to North Yarmouth Academy (NYA) senior Rick Hilscher, who was named a National Merit Scholar! Hilscher was selected by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) as one of 2,500 Merit Scholar designees chosen from a talent pool of more than 15,000 outstanding Finalists in the 2018 National Merit Scholarship Program. Congratulations also to senior Leo Webster who was chosen as NMSC Finalist.

Hilscher and Webster began the NMSC process in October 2016 when over 1.6 million juniors in more than 22,000 high schools took the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/SMSQT) which served as an initial screen of program entrants. Last fall, they were named two of 16,000 Semifinalists and among the highest-scoring participants in the state. Only these 16,000 Semifinalists, less than one percent of the nation’s high school seniors, had an opportunity to continue in the competition. Fifteen thousand students met the very high academic standards and other requirements to advance to the Finalist level of the competition. By the conclusion of the 2018 program, about 7,500 academic champions earned the “Merit Scholar” title, Hilscher included.

“Over the entire time that I have known and worked with Rick,” Head of Upper School and Math Teacher Eric Austin said, “he has proven to be an exceptionally and unusually talented thinker who exhibits the very highest level of proficiency and aptitude in all of his work. He has continually demonstrated a steadfast and genuine dedication to his learning and to bettering his ability to understand and fully comprehend even the finest of details. 

National Merit Scholarship winners are the Finalists in each state judged to have the strongest combination of accomplishments, skills, and potential for success in rigorous college studies. The number of winners named in each state is proportional to the state’s percentage of the nation’s graduating high school seniors.

These Scholars were selected by a committee of college admissions officers and high school counselors, who appraised a substantial amount of information submitted by both the Finalists and their high schools: the academic record, including difficulty level of subjects studied and grades earned; scores from two standardized tests; contributions and leadership in school and community activities; an essay written by the Finalist; and a recommendation written by a high school official.

North Yarmouth Academy is an independent, college preparatory, coeducational school for toddlers to students in grade twelve. Since 1814, NYA has fostered integrity, character, and intellect in its students. For more information, please contact NYA at 207-847-5423 or visit our website at