Nevada Union student, Grass Valley resident a semifinalist in scholarship program |

Nevada Union student, Grass Valley resident a semifinalist in scholarship program

Jennifer Terman
Staff Writer

A local student was chosen out of millions to be a semifinalist in the National Merit Scholarship program.

Nevada Union student Laurens "Lars" Montanaro was named a semi-finalist in California along with five other students.

To qualify for the award, students must have taken the practice SAT, or PSAT, no later than their third year in grades 9 through 12, be enrolled as a high school student progressing normally toward graduation or high school completion and plan to enroll full time in college no later than fall after completion of high school, and be a U.S. citizen or U.S. lawful permanent resident.

Some 50,000 out of 1.5 million students are selected based on critical reading, mathematics and writing skills scores.

Montanaro actually missed the PSAT date, but he took the SAT, which was sent to the scholarship foundation, at a location in Foresthill.

"Just last week I was called in by my counselor, Rose Murph, (and told) that I was a semi-finalist and I was really excited," Montanaro said. "I put in work and studied for the SAT to do well on it …"

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Montanaro plans to apply to multiple Ivy League schools, including Yale, Harvard, University of California, Los Angeles, University of California, Berkeley, New York University and University of Michigan.

Montanaro skipped a grade and wants to visit Italy, where his family is from, for six months before attending college, a journey his father took when he was his age.

"My dad did it and really enjoyed it and he went to Brown," said Montanaro, adding he knows he will remain motivated to attend college even after taking a break.

"I've always been very self-motivated, I enjoy learning and taking exciting classes and learning new things."

Montanaro also anticipates that universities will be understanding of the fact that his 18th birthday is not until more than halfway through his freshman year of college.

Montanaro wants to travel to Italy, where his great-grandfather on his father's side and great grandparents on his mother's side emigrated from. He also wants to take a birthright trip to Israel.

"I would really like traveling and I think it would help provide perspective," said Montanaro, who is unsure of what major he wants to eventually pursue.

"My favorite thing I've been doing all my life is theater," said Montanaro, president of both the Nevada Union thespian and improvisation clubs. "I probably won't major in that," he admitted. "But I would like to minor in that, so I'll probably go undeclared and take either political science or physics, something like that."

If awarded the scholarship, Montanaro said he would be grateful of the funding, as well as the competitive edge he would receive on applications.

"It is also just an honor for me and I think it's really going to help differentiate me from just being every other kid."

About 15,000 scholarship finalists will be notified by mail in February and the winners will be chosen based on abilities, skills and accomplishments, according to the National Merit Scholarship website, using the finalist's academic record, information about the school's curricula and grading system, two sets of test scores, the high school's written recommendation, information about the student's activities and leadership, and the finalist's essay.

About 8,000 finalists will be notified from March to June to receive a $2,500 National Merit scholarship from corporate or college sponsors.

Though Montanaro has several months to wait before he knows if he was selected, after he already applied to colleges, he remains hopeful for the opportunity on future applications.

"I'm just excited for the future and hope that everything turns out great."

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To contact Staff Writer Jennifer Terman, email or call 530-477-4230.

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