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Celebrating our National Merit Scholars!

On September 15, 2021, officials of National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC®) announced the names of approximately 16,000 Semifinalists in the 67th annual National Merit Scholarship Program. These academically talented high school seniors have an opportunity to continue in the competition for some 7,500 National Merit Scholarships worth nearly $30 million that will be offered next spring. To be considered for a Merit Scholarship® award, Semifinalists must fulfill several requirements to advance to the Finalist level of the competition. About 95 percent of the Semifinalists are expected to attain Finalist standing, and approximately half of the Finalists will win a National Merit Scholarship, earning the Merit Scholar® title.

We congratulate the 8 students designated as National Merit Semifinalists in the Class of 2022! Wishing you all the best as you pursue finalist standing. 

Semifinalists in the 2022 National Merit® Scholarship Program

National Merit Semifinalists 2021

(L-R) Brigitte Bell, William Slabodkin, Sydney Arlin, Alex Handwork, Abe Canowitz, Connor McGartland, Aditya Chittari and Varun Chitiveli

Learn more about your semifinalists below. We asked them the following questions. 

  • How many years have you attended New Albany Schools?
  • What does the National Merit Semi- Finalist mean to you personally?
  • What colleges or universities are you considering?
  • What would you like to pursue as a major, career, etc?
  • What sort of activities are you involved with at NAHS or in the community?
  • Please share anything else you may feel you want people to know! 

Sydney Arlin

I have attended New Albany Schools for 13 years. To me, National Merit Semi-Finalist is a huge accomplishment that shows that all my hard work in school has paid off. It is an honor to have received this award. I have not yet finalized my college list, but right now I am looking at The Ohio State University, Stanford, University of Washington, Tufts, and Vanderbilt. I am interested in majoring in biology and then going to medical school.

I play volleyball for the school in the fall and for Greater Columbus Volleyball Club from December-June. This year I am captain of the varsity volleyball team. I am in numerous clubs at NAHS. I have been on the board for Key Club for two years and have earned 85 service hours through Key Club. I'm also a member in Student Council and National Honor Society. In the community, I am a volunteer and grant reader for The Women's Fund of Central Ohio.

I want to thank all the teachers in the high school for challenging me to become the best student I can be. Also, I want younger kids in the New Albany School District to know they can do anything they put their minds to.

Brigitte Bell

I came to New Albany partway through fifth grade, so I will have been here seven years this December. Being a National Merit Semi-Finalist is an honor and it’s exciting to see such a concrete result from my focus on academics these past years. I am also very grateful for the future opportunities this selection presents in terms of college applications and scholarships!

For college, I’m currently looking to apply to OSU, Northwestern, Brown, and Case Western, as well as various other colleges, primarily located on the East Coast. I’m looking to major somewhere in the realm of environmental science/engineering, but I recognize that most people’s majors change at some point so I’m ready to lean into a little bit of uncertainty in this regard! At NAHS I am a member of NHS and a student leader in Science Olympiad, as well as a member of the jazz band, a squad leader in marching band and Co-President of Environmental Club. I will also be representing our school on the city of New Albany’s newly established Sustainability Advisory Board.

I’d like to thank my family, friends, and teachers for all of the support I’ve received throughout my academic career, and for always encouraging me to challenge myself and pursue my passions!

Abe Canowitz

It is a huge honor to be a Semifinalist.I have lived in the district for 12 years. As of right now, my top two are UNC Chapel Hill and the BS/MD program at University of Cincinnati. I plan on majoring in either biology or chemistry, and I am pursuing a career in medicine. I run cross country and track, and I am a member of NHS. I want to thank my parents as well as all of my teachers for pushing and encouraging me.

Varun Chitiveli

I have lived in the district for 7 years. To me, becoming a National Merit Semi-Finalist is an affirmation of all the hard work I have put into academics over the years. It really is an honor to be selected as a Semi-Finalist; I put a lot of my time working towards it as I prepared for the PSAT test. Mainly I have been looking at The Ohio State University and Purdue University, but I am also considering Georgia Institute of Technology and the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. I am going to study Aeronautical Engineering in college, and hope to work in the space industry in the future.

I am the Team Captain of our school robotics team The Digital Eagles. Through robotics, I have been very active in the community, hosting and volunteering STEM or community service events. I also do a lot of engineering work, building a competitive robot each season.

I would like to give special thanks to my parents for always having my back. I wouldn't be where I am today without their unyielding support.

Aditya Chittari

14 years - I've been a New Albany Eagle since preschool! Receiving the National Merit Semifinalist selection is quite a honor. It's a representation of the hard work and dedication I've put in has come to fruition. Right now, I'm considering 4 colleges: The Ohio State University, Purdue University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the Georgia Institute of Technology. It's been a lifelong dream to pursue an aerospace engineering degree.

Anyone who knows me well will know I am a big robotics nerd - I've been competing in FIRST Robotics since the 4th grade (roughly 9 years), and the experiences I've had participating alongside my friends has truly sparked my interest in designing and engineering as a whole. Recently, I was one of the leaders of an initiative that worked to appropriate Ohio state government funds to all FIRST and VEX Robotics teams across the State of Ohio. Although the drafted amendment did not pass into law, it set a perfect framework for the second round of advocacy in the next few years.

I would like to thank The Academy, my family, and the wonderful teachers and staff at New Albany who have made a significant impact on me personally. My high school experience would be completely different if I did not have your wonderful support! To future students: set your heart ablaze!

Alex Handwork

I am a New Albany lifer, having attended all 13 years starting in Kindergarten! I am honored to be one of 16,000 National Merit Semi-Finalists nationally and one of 8 at New Albany. I am grateful to be recognized with my peers at NAHS and for the opportunities this recognition presents. I would love to attend a large university in the Midwest with an innovative engineering program, research opportunities, and collaborative project teams.

I plan to study mechanical engineering for a career that integrates my passions for marine biology and engineering. Recently, I completed a Senior Seminar project exploring biomimicry in engineering design, and that is where I currently see my future. I am a 4 year member of the Cross Country team and a 3 year member of the Track team. I am also a member of National Honor Society. I enjoy participating in community service as a 4-year member of Key Club, including 2 years on the executive board. I'm looking forward to going to Andros Island for the high school marine biology trip in 2022!

I would like to thank my parents and my sister for their support! I appreciate the education and experiences I have received from New Albany schools that helped me achieve this accomplishment.

Connor McGartland

I have lived in the district for 7 years. It is an amazing opportunity [being selected as a semifinalist] that I’m excited to pursue further. Looking at USC for college. Major in engineering or computer science. I’m involved with NHS, Cross Country, and Track. 

William Slabodkin

I have attended New Albany Schools for 13 years. To me, the National Merit Semi-Finalist selection feels like a recognition of all the effort I’ve put into my academic career. Some of the universities I am considering include Reed College, Washington State University, and Willamette University. While I am not entirely sure about a particular major/career, I am currently thinking about an area of study that would allow me to combine two of my favorite subjects: math and chemistry. Ideas I currently have include chemical engineering or chemistry, the latter with a possible minor in math.

I am mainly involved with our school’s In the Know trivia team as well as the Chamber Orchestra; other clubs I’m involved with include New Student Network and the Mathematics Competition club. I want to thank my teachers, friends, and family for supporting me and helping me gain this achievement! 

We also celebrate our 10 Commended Scholars! 

Commended Scholars 2022


(L-R) Juhi Shukla, Navya Guduri, Helen Wang, Ritam Biswas, Aj Denny, Ryan Liu, Durshil Doshi, Jack Spangenberg, Oliver Bieser and Olivia Pace