Five National Merit Scholars from Ocean City honored by school board

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Five National Merit Scholars from Ocean City honored by school board Five National Merit Scholars from Ocean City honored by school board

OCEAN CITY — Five Ocean City High School seniors were recognized by the local school board Wednesday, Dec. 11 after being selected for the National Merit Scholarship program.

Of about 1.5 million high juniors who take the PSAT each year, about 50,000 qualify for prestigious program. The Ocean City Board of Education and Superintendent Kathleen Taylor recognized the five qualifying students for their performance.

“Only about the top 3 percent make this qualification,” Taylor said, as she called each of the National Merit Scholars to the podium.  

Maham Ahmad, who serves as a student representative to the board, ranks first in her class with a 4.9998 grade point average.

“Suffice it to say, Maham is our best,” Taylor said.

Ahmad is a member of the National Honor Society, culturally involved and willing to try new challenges and experiences, she said, adding that her teachers have said they enjoyed watching “this humble young lady” mature into an incredibly talented student.

“Maham’s student record is not only exceptional because of the grades she has earned, but also because of the challenges she has accepted,” Taylor said.

While other students were enjoying the beach, Ahmad was readying herself for the upcoming school year by completing a significant amount of required work for her honors and advanced placement courses, Taylor said.

“Maham’s community involvement has been liberally filled with leadership and volunteerism,” she said.

Ahmad has volunteered in a variety of roles and given many hours of her time at two local hospitals. She also serves in executive positions in the National Honor Society and Key Club.

Taylor said Ahmad yearns to be actively involved in helping young women in adverse circumstances obtain an education. Following in her parents footsteps, she aspires to be a physician.

“At this juncture in her academic preparation, I have no doubt she will be able to handle any academic challenge in pursuing this career path,” Taylor said.

Ahmad is an early decision applicant to the University of Pennsylvania.

National Merit Scholar Aine Boyle is ranked 16th in her class with a 4.3 GPA.

“Aine is the epitome of a well-rounded young woman,” Taylor said. “She has demonstrated a gentle, polite and humble nature.”

She said this quiet exterior should not fool one, “for beneath it lays a ferocious work ethic and tenacity.”

“She is a young woman who has excelled in many areas and has been rewarded by being selected to the National Honor Society,” Taylor said. “She especially shines and challenges her skills in science, yet shows an incredible ability to shine in a variety of disciplines. At the conclusion of her senior year, she will have completed 12 advanced placement courses.”

Boyle, who hopes to pursue a career in a medical science area, is an early action applicant to Georgetown University.

Taylor said Boyle is “a disciplined athlete” who shined in spring and winter track. In addition, she serves as president of the ecology club.

“Dance has played a major role in Aine’s life for many years,” she said. “She practices year round with very little time off. The poise she shows in other facets of her life probably has originated to some degree from her experiences with this activity. All the lessons a dancer learns, including self-discipline, focus and work ethic, can be seen being parlayed into other aspects of her life.”

Boyle is the first generation of her family to be born in the United States.

“We have been honored to have her as a part of our high school,” Taylor said.

National Merit Scholar Isabel Benevenuti is one of those students who make a guidance counselor’s job so rewarding, Taylor said.

“She is, without knowing, inspirational to those around her,” she said.

Boasting a 4.7 GPA, Benevenuti is ranked fifth in her class and is thriving, Taylor said. A member of the National Honor Society, she has enrolled in 20 honors or advanced placement courses since her freshman year.

“She has been a consistent presence on our distinguished honor roll,” Taylor said. “Isabel has a thirst for knowledge. Her most rewarding academic experience is when she is around teachers who challenge her, push her out of her comfort zone.”

With a “broad and impressive” resume, Benevenuti’s passion for the performing arts stands out, Taylor said.

“She is always involved in performing at one venue or another in our community,” she said. “Whether she is singing with our choir, performing in a concert, parade, or football game, long hours and demanding performances are part of her life all year round. All of these activities are among the most time-consuming we offer. It’s because of students like Isabel that a school's activities can be successful. She selflessly is willing to contribute her time and energy.

“She is the section leader in her band and plays at an elite level, enough to have been chosen for the South Jersey Regional Band the past few years.”

Benevenuti is an early action applicant to Princeton University.

John “Jack” Kane has taken 12 honors and 12 advanced placement classes while remaining active inside and outside of Ocean City High School. With a GPA of 4.850, he ranks third in his class.

Kane is a member of the marching and jazz bands and earned spots on the Cape Atlantic Honors Band and the All South Jersey Orchestra Band. He also participates in the peer leadership group and the French club, where he has served as both vice president and president.

“Jack has expressed a strong career interest in mathematics and plans on continuing his studies at either Brown or Northeastern University,” Taylor said.

Kane is an Eagle Scout and a member of the National Honor Society. He works for Mama Mia’s and at the Eisele Christmas Tree Farm.

“He is a hardworking, selfless young man that has made OCHS proud,” Taylor said.

National Merit Scholar Carolyn Previti is a “superstar in the classroom” who continually exceeds expectations, Taylor said.

“She espouses the phrase ‘Actions speak louder than words,’” she said.

Previti is ranked second in her class with a 4.8 GPA. Her teachers describe her as intelligent, quick learner, insightful, conscientious, and dependable, Taylor said.

Previti is also involved with student government and volunteer opportunities, Taylor said, balancing both “beautifully.”

She is a member of the tennis team, treasurer of Student Council, and is “a force in producing for the school’s award-winning literary magazine.”

Previti was elected to serve as a team leader for the school’s freshmen transition project and has been involved with the County Shore Women’s Club. She has an interest in the business and finance fields and mathematics.   

“She plans to attend a college or university that has both programs of study,” Taylor said.   

­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­In addition to the five National Merit Scholars, DJ Gilhooley, last year’s valedictorian who is now at Princeton University, was named a National Advanced Placement Scholar.

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