Kilgore High School senior Bailey Green is one step closer to being named a National Merit finalist.
Last week she got the news – officially – she was a semifinalist.
To be named a National Merit semifinalist, high school students must rank in the top one percent of students taking the Pre-SAT exam as a junior.
Though for Green, who was the only semifinalist from KHS and reportedly one of just three in East Texas, the test itself spoiled the surprise.
“A while back I looked at the requirements for being a semifinalist, and it was going to be the top 16,000 scores,” she said. “I was like, ‘OK, well, 16,000 what percentile is that? How many people take the test?’ And it was 1.6 million, so I divided that, and it was just the top 1 percent. I was like, ‘Well, the PSAT already told me I was the top 1 percent.’”
She was nervous when she was called out of class last week, though, not sure why she was being asked to go to the counselor’s office and was met by one of the counselors and KHS Principal Charles Presley.
“I got in there and I was like, ‘What could be happening here?’ because they called me out of class,” she said. Presley first started talking to Green about a newspaper interview she sent him, but then the subject changed. “After a minute they just kind of switched over and put the little paper in front of me that had the information on it… I didn’t realize there’d be this much ceremony over this. And they told me I couldn’t tell anybody yet except my family.”
When she took the test last year as a junior, Green said, she did “very little” to prepare.
“I did a practice test on Con Academy, and then worked on the math that it said I was having trouble with and then I just kind of took the test,” she said.
The pressure is a little greater now that she is vying for a chance to be one of the 15,000 National Merit finalists identified in the country.
“The finalist is what I actually want because I know if I get a finalist and I go to the University of Texas at Dallas, they’ll pay my way, pay my fees, give me $8,000 a year as a stipend and then $2,000 a year to study abroad. That’s if I get a finalist,” she said, “so a lot of money is riding on finalist.”
The National Merit Scholarship was a core reason for choosing the University of Texas at Dallas over the university’s main campus in Austin. While UT-Austin was not included on the list of National Merit college sponsors, UT-Dallas was included.
In order to qualify as a finalist, though, Green had to complete the SAT with a score reflective of her PSAT performance and must submit an application and essay.
With an idea for her essay, Green said, she is preparing the information she needs to submit to the National Merit Scholarship Corporation.
Green serves as editor in chief of the KHS student newspaper “The Mirror,” president of the Drama Club and National Honor Society and reporter in the La Bamba campus organization. She was selected as the Drama Club Duchess during this year’s Homecoming and earned recognition in 2016 in multiple journalism UIL academic competitions.