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Henry Burton named National Merit semifinalist

Henry Burton was corralled in the hallway Tuesday by Leadership teacher Bob Kadell with yet another task: to announce that day’s Hood River Valley High School soccer playoff game.

It was further proof that the HRVHS senior is goal-oriented, along with a certain academic honor announced last month: Burton was named a National Merit Scholar semi-finalist along with 15,000 other U.S. high school students. Burton is the sixth semi-finalist from HRVHS in five years. Two years ago his brother, Oliver, also made semi-finalist.

“I do try to keep up,” Henry said with a smile Tuesday. “We’re both pretty motivated.”

Henry received the honor as the result of his score on the PSAT (Preliminary Scholastic Aptitute Test). This score placed him in the top fifth of those Oregon students who participated in the National Merit Program.

“I was pretty pleased, but I wasn’t that surprised. I knew I’d done pretty well on the test. I was pretty happy,” said Henry, who credited “a lot of great teachers” at HRVHS, along with the home schooling he received through grade five.

“I really got the best of both worlds in my education,” said Henry. “Being home schooled I learned to be self-motivated and work at my own pace, and in public schools I learned about working in group situations.”

Henry and the other semi-finalists will compete for 8,000 Merit Scholarship awards, to be presented in February 2004. Burton wrote a self-describing essay and provided a principal’s recommendation.

“Henry is not only academically talented, but he is highly involved in his school and community as well,” said Martha Capovilla, co-principal at HRVHS.

Burton is currently ASB Vice President and has also been a member of the Site Council. In his work on the council, Burton said he was proud of his contribution to the school’s new policy for selecting one or two class valedictorians, based on academic rigor.

HRVHS seniors Elsie Denton and Luke Webb were named Commended Merit Scholars, according to Capovilla.

“The staff and students of Hood River Valley High School are very excited to have three HRVHS students make it so far in the National Merit Program,” Capovilla said.

Burton also serves on the Hood River City Youth Advisory Council. He has also been a dedicated member of the HRVHS Swim Team since his freshman year.

Though Burton has made his own mark at HRVHS, he is the second member of his family to achieve semi-finalist status, following his brother, Oliver, who is now a sophomore at Williams College, in Massachusetts. Henry plans to apply to Williams, along with Harvard, Yale, and Deep Springs College in California.

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