Two Barrington students win National Merit Scholarships

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Barrington High School seniors Karl Aspelund and Sofia Serrano recently learned they had both won $2,500 National Merit Scholarships. They were among only seven students in the state to win the awards.

The 2,500 Merit Scholar designees were chosen from a talent pool of more than 15,000 outstanding finalists in the 2013 National Merit  Scholarship Program. National Merit $2500 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.

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.

This year’s competition for National Merit Scholarships began in Oct. 2011 when approximately 1.5 million juniors in some 22,000 high schools took the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test, which served as an initial screen of program  entrants.

Last fall, the highest-scoring participants in each state, representing less than 1 percent of the nation’s high school seniors, were named semifinalists on a state representational basis.

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A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.