DHS student is National Merit Scholar | RecordCourier.com
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DHS student is National Merit Scholar

by Linda Hiller

Douglas High School student Phil Gorrindo has academic aspirations and achievements that raise the bar for all Valley students.

The 18-year-old senior has been been recognized for three separate academic awards and plans to attend Yale University in New Haven, Conn. in the fall.

“Phil really did this on his own,” said mom Lyn Gorrindo, a chemistry teacher at DHS. “Last year he decided he needed a certain SAT score to get into Yale and went to work on it himself.”

n Award #1. Gorrindo is also the sole DHS winner of a National Merit Scholarship. This $2,000 award is a one-time nonrenewable award sponsored by PepsiCo Foundation, Inc. Recipients are chosen by a committee of college admissions officers and high school counselors; are the finalists in their respective states and judged to have the greatest potential for success in rigorous college studies.

Each year’s competition for Merit Scholarships is intense and the number of awards available is limited. This year there are 2,400 high school seniors nationwide who were awarded National Merit Scholarships.

n Award #2. Gorrindo’s second academic award was as a “scholar finalist” in the National Hispanic Recognition Program, a College Board program which provides recognition of the exceptional academic achievements of Hispanic high school seniors. Additionally, the program identifies academically well-prepared Hispanic high school seniors for postsecondary institutions.

Students enter the program by taking the Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT) as high school juniors and by identifying themselves as Hispanic. From more than 150,000 students nationwide, the 4,000 highest scoring students are than identified as semifinalists. Based on further evidence of their academic achievement, a select group of 3,000 students are recognized as program finalists. Gorrindo is among these students, identified as a “scholar finalist.”

The names of all finalists are listed on a roster of outstanding Hispanic students, which has been released to colleges and universities to encourage them to seek out these talented Hispanic students as potential candidates for admission.

n Award #3. Gorrindo is also one of 500 semifinalists in the 1999 Presidential Scholarship competition. These scholars were selected from approximately 2.5 million graduating high school seniors nationwide. The academic component of the program selects students who have scored exceptionally well on the College Board SAT or ACT Assessment, resulting in 2,600 students who are then identified as candidates and then honed down to the the final 500 semifinalists.

This month, the White House Commission on Presidential Scholars is reviewing the applications of all semifinalists and wil select a final 121 academic scholars and 20 arts scholars who will be honored for their accomplishments in Washington, D.C. during National Recognmition Week in June.

n Family values education. Phil is the son of Lyn and Bob Gorrindo. Bob has been a veterinarian in the Valley for more than 20 years. The family has three other children, 22-year-old twins Tristan, who is graduating from Georgetown University this year and Lance, also graduating this year from Santa Clara University; and Katie, an 8th grader at Pau-Wa-Lu Middle School in Gardnerville.

Phil is also one of four finalists for valedictorian of the 1999 DHS class His parents, while proud, are impressed with all their childrens’ school successes.

“Bob and I have talked a lot about it, about why we’ve been so lucky with our kids,” Lyn said. “I guess it’s been the family values we’ve stressed – that education is important to us.”

Phil said he is interested in majoring in science at Yale and may consider a double major in a science and non-science, he said. His choice of Yale was cemented last summer when he visited the campus.

“All the people who were students and alumni that I met really impressed me,” he said. “They all love their school so much and I felt like they would be loyal to it no matter what.”

Gorrindo also attended classes at Harvard University last summer, but found he was more impressed with Yale, he said.

As a Douglas High School student, he said there have been strengths and weaknesses in the his overall education .

“There’s a lot that is good here and I’ve tried to fill in the weaknesses with outside reading, for example,” he said. “I guess having good genes and a good home environment and family structure has helped, plus I love learning and exploring on my own.”