Thursday, February 28, 2013

Lions’ Pride: UCHS Boasts Two 2013 National Merit Finalists

Ethan Farber and Anna Soifer
Over the years our school district has produced many National Merit Finalists, and this year is no different. Seniors Anna Soifer and Ethan Farber have both received the designation of National Merit Finalists – an honor reserved for just 15,000 graduating seniors nationwide (less than 1%) out of the nearly 1.5 million who take the PSAT as juniors. The National Merit Scholarship Program honors students who show exceptional academic ability and potential for success in rigorous college studies, and University City High School has a strong record of producing finalists.
In fact, an impressive 49 UCHS students have been named as National Merit Finalists since 1994. In addition to performing well on the PSAT(which both claim to have prepared for simply by getting a good night’s sleep), Ethan and Anna had to complete an application, write an essay, and take the SAT (to prove that their PSAT scores were not a fluke.) If they go on to become full National Merit Scholars (as about half of the finalists do) they will receive scholarships from the National Merit Scholarship Corporation, and many schools offer generous merit-based financial aid to anyone who reaches finalist status as well. National Merit Scholars are expected to be announced in May.

Having attended University City schools since kindergarten (Anna attended Jackson Park Elementary and Ethan attended Flynn Park Elementary) both students cite the dedicated teachers they’ve had as key to their academic successes. Anna says that,

“Over the years I have had the good fortune to have had a number of extremely dedicated teachers. These wonderful people have encouraged my love for learning and helped me to focus on academics. Not a year has gone by since entering UCHS that I have not had at least one teacher that was willing to challenge me - challenges that have helped keep me interested in school and on a path to academic success.”

Likewise, Ethan remarks that,

“Each of my four years at U. City High I've had instructors who teach subjects they're passionate about. Enthusiasm is often the best assistant teacher. I've always had great friends and wonderful opportunities here in the district--does U.C. to D.C. ring any bells?--and University City has in general been a great place to grow and learn.”

Needless to say, both students take full advantage of the challenging course offerings at UCHS. Ethan is currently enrolled in AP Latin, AP Literature, and AP World History and since he has already completed both AP Calculus A/B and B/C, he takes multivariable/vector calculus as in independent study course. Anna's schedule includes AP Biology (lecture and lab) AP Calculus B/C, AP Literature, AP Latin, and AP World History.

Like most successful students, Anna and Ethan also enjoy a wide range of interests and activities outside of the classroom. Anna is a member of Ballet Eclectica's Apprentice Company (one of COCA's student dance companies) and typically dances 14 hours a week. She’s also the president of the UCHS Latin Club and the secretary of the UCHS chapter of the National Honor Society. In her spare time she plays the flute. Ethan is a runner and a member of the UCHS cross country and track teams, and for the past two years has served on the board of the Missouri Junior Classical League, first as Parliamentarian and now as President. He was one of 360 top students in the state to attend the Missouri Scholars Academy in 2011, and also serves as a teaching assistant at his synagogue on Sundays.

So how do they possibly do it all, you might ask? Interestingly, when asked independently the secrets to their success both students mentioned mastering time management as key. Ethan explains that,

“I'm a busy kid, and I have extracurriculars to worry about on top of homework. A lot of students complain that they don't have enough time to keep up with schoolwork, and it can be a challenge at times, but between 5:00, when I get home, and 10:00, when I get in bed, there are five full hours--every night! Even with dinner and obligatory free time factored in, I've got plenty of time to get my work done, especially if I break it up over multiple days.”

Anna offers the following advice and encouragement to her fellow students:

“Learn good time management skills and to know how to stay focused. Time management is everything. Without it, homework will go uncompleted, therefore concepts will not be reinforce; grades will drop, and there will be a vicious cycle of make-up work from which it will be very hard to extricate yourself. Staying focused is the key to getting all of your work done. If staying focused means doing your homework at the kitchen table out of the way of distractions in your room, or disabling the internet on your computer while typing a paper, do it. Also remember, and this is just as important as the other two, never give up because you have an idea in your head that a certain subject is not your "thing", and especially don't give up because you don't like a class. The minute you tell yourself that you can't do math, or you can't write well, it immediately becomes exponentially harder - and it is purely you tricking yourself into believing you have limitations that don't exist. I can't stress enough how important it is to believe in your own abilities.”
As you might expect, both students have big plans for after high school.  Anna intends to study archaeology (a passion since childhood) and has applied to Johns Hopkins, Stanford, Vanderbilt, William and Mary, Tulane, and Missouri State.  Ethan is undecided with regard to choosing a major, but has applied to Mizzou, Washington University, Stanford, University of Chicago, and Yale.  No matter what life holds in store for these two Lions, we know that they will continue to make the School District of University City and the Class of 2013 very proud.

UPDATE: Congratulations to Ethan on being selected as a 2013 National Merit Scholarship Winner!  Ethan will attend our very own Washington University in the fall.  Anna will be heading to Baltimore to study archaeology at Johns Hopkins University. Best wishes to them both!

By Kim Deitzler, Guest Blogger

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