Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District

Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District News Article

National Merit Scholars Share Their Heights High Experiences

chhs national merit scholars "get to know"Nov. 30, 2023 -- Back in October, Heights High seniors Niko Bell, Natalie Bier, Laurel Buescher, Sean Egbert, Caleb Green, Marcus Holland and Mason Spieth were announced as National Merit Scholars. The scholars recently shared their experiences taking Advanced Placement (AP) and College Credit Plus (CCP) classes, extracurricular activities that they are involved in, and Heights High faculty that have made an impact on them during their high school careers.

Caleb and Niko are National Merit Scholar Semifinalists in the 2024 competition, and have the opportunity to advance to the finalist level and qualify for National Merit Scholarships. Laurel, Marcus, Mason, Natalie and Sean are Commended Students, placing among the top 5 percent of the students who entered.

Nationally, 16,000 semifinalists were recognized, representing less than 1 percent of the U.S. high school seniors, as were 34,000 commended students. More than 1.3 million students entered the National Merit Scholarship qualifying competition by taking the PSAT test in the fall of their junior year.

Meet the Scholars

Niko Bell is enrolled in Ohio’s College Credit Plus (CCP) program and spends her school day at Cleveland State University (CSU) and is currently taking courses on number theory, eastern philosophy, pre-colonial African history, and Buddhism and Hinduism in America. She appreciates that these courses have “emphasized learning how to think critically and problem-solve, as opposed to making students simply memorize information.” Niko is highly active in Heights High’s extracurricular activities as a member of the Varsity Girls Soccer team, the National Honor Society (NHS), and the Academic Challenge Team, which won the Nordson Academic Challenge Championship and qualified for the NAQT National Competition back in May. Niko is also the president of Heights High’s Gender & Sexualities Alliance. With the ultimate goal of becoming a Philosophy professor, Bell plans to double major in Mathematics and Philosophy at Amherst College, MIT or Brown University. Niko appreciates Mr. Meister for “encouraging me to gain a voice and inspiring me to speak up for what I believe in.” She would also like to thank Mr. Bifulco for “always making his room available to study and hang out” as well as talking about politics and college applications with her.

Caleb Green is currently taking AP Calculus, Chemistry, Psychology, Spanish, CCP College Composition, and has taken several engineering courses from the Heights Career Tech programs. He is the NHS Vice President, plays on the Varsity Boys Tennis and Hockey teams, and is a co-founder of the Heights High Ping Pong Club. AP Calculus stands out to Caleb because of his teacher Mr. O’Deens and “the way he breaks down difficult concepts into enjoyable lessons.” Green plans to study Engineering at Case Western Reserve University, MIT, or Northeastern University. Caleb would like to thank Mr. O’Deens for teaching his favorite class, Mr. Nachman for “being very supportive in my personal life,” and Mrs. Fatica for “helping me keep it together in school.”

Natalie Bier especially liked the CCP German classes she took in 10th grade through Tri-C and with Wright State in 11th because “it was fun to learn a language I didn’t have the opportunity to take at Heights.” She is currently taking AP Calculus, Psychology, Statistics, and Literature and Composition. As the captain of the Academic Challenge Team, Bier led Heights High to win the Nordson Academic Challenge Contest this past May. She is also a member of the Drama Club, Stage Crew, NHS, Senior Class Council, and Heights High’s Varsity Girls Tennis team. After graduation, she plans to study Speech-Language Pathology at Syracuse University or The Ohio State University. Natalie is thankful for her counselor Ms. Menefee for helping her with CCP and college applications, Mr. O’Deens for “making calculus and precalculus so fun,” and Keith Newman, Heights High’s Stage Manager, for “everything he does.”

Laurel Buescher is taking AP Biology, Calculus, Government, and Statistics, and plays violin in the Heights High Symphony. Part of the CCP program, Laurel is taking College Composition, an English class at the high school through Tri-C, and is a member of NHS. She also participates with the Varsity Girls Soccer team, Drama Club, and Heights High’s Environmental Committee. CCP Introduction to American Studies at Heights through Kenyon College was a stand out course for her, “we had some really great discussions in that class and I learned a lot.” Laurel has not decided yet what she wants to study after graduation but her top schools are Barnard College, Boston University, Northwestern University, and Washington University in St. Louis. She appreciates “Mr. O’Deens, for being my favorite 50 minutes of every day, Mr. Meister, for stretching how I learn, and Ms. White, for her enthusiasm and joy.”

Sean Egbert is taking AP Biology and Statistics, CCP Neuroscience and College Composition, and is also part of Heights Career Tech’s Audio Engineering program. The AP Literature and Composition class he took last year stood out to him the most. “It was the first time I felt engaged and interested in an English class and it did wonders for my writing and grammatical abilities.” Sean is a member of Heights High’s Varsity Boys Golf team, was part of Sound Crew for the fall musical, “The Addams Family,” and is the Social Media Representative for Senior Class Council. Egbert plans to study Data Science/Analytics and get a Masters in Education at The Ohio State University or the University of Cincinnati. He would like to thank Ms. Korb for “always having a room available to work or unwind through all four years.”

Marcus Holland is currently taking AP BC Calculus, Environmental Science, Psychology, and Statistics and CCP College Composition. The AP Macro and Micro Economics classes he took last year stood out the most because it “was a different topic than I was used to learning at school.” Outside of academics, he is a member of the Varsity Baseball, Bowling, and Soccer teams. Marcus is also a member of the National Honor Society. He is currently undecided with regards to his top colleges and a potential major but Marcus appreciates all of the teachers he has had at Heights High for their support and encouragement.

Mason Spieth is currently taking CCP College Composition and Introduction to American Studies and is part of Heights Career Tech’s Audio Engineering program. He is enjoying CCP American Studies because he enjoys discussing interesting parts of history and because “Mr. Meister is a great teacher and asks good questions.” Mason is also enjoying College Composition with Mrs. Strine because she has been “a good and supportive teacher who has taught me a lot about writing.” He is a member of the National Honor Society, is the principal alto saxophonist in Symphonic Winds, and played tenor saxophone in the Tiger Marching Band. After graduation, Spieth plans to study Computer Science at The Ohio State University. Mason is grateful to his counselor, Mr. Murray, for “his endless support and guidance” during his time here at Heights High.

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