National Merit Commended Students

September 27, 2022 / Upper School/All News

Officials of the National Merit Scholarship Corporation have announced that JA seniors Elizabeth Copeland and Josh Watson received commendations in the 68th annual National Merit Scholarship Program. 

“We are proud of Elizabeth and Josh for their tremendous achievement on the PSAT. Being recognized in the National Merit program is a true academic honor as only 5% of all test takers are recognized,” said Head of Upper School Brandi Richardson. “To state it simply–students who are recognized in the National Merit program demonstrate an exceptional level of mastery and preparedness for college. We know that students work very hard to prepare for the PSAT each year, and we are proud of our students!”

Elizabeth Copeland

What are your favorite JA activities?

My favorite activity that I participate in at JA is Accents. As an officer, I get the opportunity to help lead the team and let everyone know, from sophomore to senior, that they are an important component of the team. I’ve loved dancing since I was a preschooler, and I know my K3 self would be so proud and excited that I am an Accent!

What do you value most about your academic experience?

JA has made me feel confident and prepared to conquer college courses, and that is one of the things I value most about my educational experience at JA. While in the moment, I may complain about writing papers and taking difficult classes, I am truly thankful for my teachers and peers pushing me to learn difficult material now so it will not be as hard in further education. 

What is your favorite subject?

Science is my favorite subject. I love how science just seems to make sense, and textbook science can be converted to “real life” science through experimentation. 

How has JA helped you become a better person?

JA has made me a better person by realizing the influence I have on other people. It has been unique for me to experience all different stages of life at JA, from the K3 turtle classroom to being a senior. I remember how much I looked up to the older students when I was in preschool, elementary, and middle school, and that has shown me how small acts of kindness can leave a positive impact on students of all ages. In this way, JA has prepared me to be a leader at school and in my next phase of life!

What would you want other students to know about JA?

I would want other students to know that, no matter what, you can find your place at JA. All you have to do is put yourself out there. Everyone is rooting for you to succeed and thrive in whatever you choose to do. 

How would you encourage academically gifted students to embrace that and celebrate it?

I would encourage academically gifted students to embrace your God-given talents by taking the hard classes and challenging yourself. I promise you, you will never regret challenging yourself to do something you didn’t think you could do; it is the most rewarding feeling. 

What are your future goals?

I aspire to go to medical school and become a doctor!

Josh Watson

Which are your favorite JA activities, and what does it mean to you?

My favorite activities at JA have been the performing arts. I love performing, and JA offers exceptional programs to support that. Going on the field or the stage and sharing a production that truly means something is by far the best feeling in the world. Art is an outlet, one that has gotten me through the worst of times and produced the best of times. The experience of putting on a show with your friends forms memories and bonds that you’ll never forget.

What do you value most about your academic experience at JA?

The balance of education and individualism is by far the most special part of my education. JA allows students to explore the arts, sports, service, and faith all during school hours. Students are encouraged to pursue high-level courses and to succeed academically, but they are also fully supported in their pursuit of personal achievement.

What is your favorite subject?

At JA, science and math have without a doubt been my favorite subjects. I find both subjects to be fun and enjoyable, and the teachers share that ambition. Teachers such as Coach West and Mrs. Pearcy push students to become their very best, while holding an infectious love of the subject they are teaching.

How has JA helped you become a better person?

JA has taught me the values of leadership and ambition. At JA, anyone who wants to has a chance to step and lead. Learning how to focus personal ambition and concentrate it into other people has been one of the most valuable lessons I have ever learned.

What would you want other students to know about JA?

JA is special. Every student, teacher, and faculty member at JA is committed to being excellent. However, this ambition to be excellent is paired with respect for one another. JA is a community like no other, one that respects, nurtures, and strives to be the best.

How would you encourage academically gifted students to embrace that and celebrate it?

Academic excellence has always been encouraged at JA. Gifted students are already embraced for their talents. The more you strive for excellence, the more opportunities and support you will be given.

What are your future goals?

Definitely move to a colder climate (north or northeast coast) and be personally successful. Find a job I enjoy doing and a life that’s worth living.

The National Merit program recognizes students for their outstanding performance in reading, writing and language, and mathematics on the PSAT/NMSQT taken during their junior year.

Elizabeth and Josh join National Merit Semifinalists Bailey Berry and Dev Sharma in receiving honors. As semifinalists, Bailey and Dev will fulfill additional requirements to advance to the finalist level of the competition, vying for some 7,250 National Merit Scholarships worth nearly $28 million awarded next spring.