North Point seniors semifinalists in National Achievement Program

North Point seniors semifinalists in National Achievement Program

The National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) recently named North Point High School seniors Christain Barnes and Njuguna Thande as semifinalists in the 2015 National Achievement Program.

Barnes and Thande are two of 1,600 high school students nationwide eligible for 800 achievement scholarship awards, worth more than $2.5 million, that will be announced in the spring. Students are considered for the program when they take the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT) as high school juniors.

Semifinalists are designated within geographic regions and are the highest-scoring program entrants in the states that make up specific regions. A total of 1,300 semifinalists will advance to the finalist level. Finalists are selected for high academic performance and SAT scores, principal recommendation, and student and community leadership activities.

Barnes is enrolled in the engineering program at North Point and plans to study the field after graduation. He is researching engineering programs at well-known colleges such as Harvard University, Yale University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Stanford University. Barnes is president of the North Point National Honor Society, a member of the Key Club and enjoys participating in school-related community service projects, coding video games and writing musical lyrics.

Thande is also enrolled in the engineering program at North Point. He is interested in attending either Carnegie Mellon University or Princeton and plans to study mechanical engineering. Thande has participated in robotics programs at North Point and is a member of Mathematics, Engineering and Science Achievement (MESA). He also enjoys creative writing and likes to write short stories.

During their summer break from school, both Barnes and Thande attended Carnegie Mellon’s Summer Academy of Math and Science, known as the SAMS program. The program is a six-week experience designed to increase the number of students from diverse backgrounds who pursue education in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) at the college level. The program is designed for high school juniors and seniors, and focuses on coursework, standardized test preparation, hands-on science and engineering projects, and opportunities for personal and social development. Interested students must apply for admission.

More than 160,000 students nationwide entered the 2015 National Achievement Program. In order to advance to the finalist level, semifinalists are required to submit a detailed scholarship application that includes academic record information, examples of participation in school and community activities, demonstrated leadership abilities, honors and awards received. Finalists will be announced later this school year.

Finalists are eligible for two types of scholarships: a one-time National Achievement $2,500 scholarship; or a corporate- or business-sponsored scholarship for students who meet criteria set by the grantor.

The NMSC is a non-profit organization that was established in 1955 to conduct the annual National Merit Program. Scholarships awarded through the program are underwritten by NMSC’s funds and more than 500 business organizations and other educational institutions with the goal of honoring the nation’s scholastic students and the pursuit of academic excellence. Visit

Charles County Public Schools provides 26,500 students in grades prekindergarten through 12 with an academically challenging education. Located in Southern Maryland, Charles County Public Schools has 35 schools that offer a technologically advanced, progressive and high quality education that builds character, equips for leadership and prepares students for life, careers and higher education.

The Charles County public school system does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age or disability in its programs, activities or employment practices. For inquiries, please contact Dr. Patricia Vaira, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 Coordinator (students) or Pamela K. Murphy, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 coordinator (employees/ adults), at Charles County Public Schools, Jesse L. Starkey Administration Building, P.O. Box 2770, La Plata, MD 20646; 301-932-6610/301-870-3814. For special accommodations call 301-934-7230 or TDD 1-800-735-2258 two weeks prior to the event.

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