Excellence

21 Midway High School Students Earn National Merit Honors

Midway High School students continued their legacy of excellence in standardized testing this year with thirteen seniors being recognized through the National Merit Program, one of whom has been named a National Merit Semifinalist. Finalists will be announced in February 2022.

L to R: Michael Becker, Ava Clevenger, Carson Lutz, Evan Jones, Sasha Barrera, Matthew Shirley, Piya Patel, Sam Battle, Heidi Kuang, Drew Kedersha, Ashlyn Melichar, Inoo Jo, & Caleb Lively.
National Merit Semifinalist Michael Becker

Congratulations to National Merit Semifinalist Michael Becker who scored among the top 1% of high school seniors in the nation on the PSAT/NMSQT.

Michael is the son of Mike and Amy Becker of Hewitt. He is an AP Scholar with Distinction and a recipient of the Spirit of Midway Award for his volunteer service. Michael serves as Vice President of Student Council, is a member of FCA and National Honor Society, and competes in UIL Science. He is also a member of the Antioch Community Church Youth Group and volunteers at the Hewitt Public Library. Following graduation, Michael plans to attend Texas A&M University to major in engineering.

Out of the 1.5 million entrants into the National Merit Scholarship Program, 12 Midway High School Students qualified for recognition as National Merit Commended Scholars representing two-thirds of the approximately 50,000 high scorers on the PSAT/NMSQT.

National Merit Commended Scholar Ashlyn Melichar

Ashlyn Melichar is being recognized both for her achievement as a National Merit Commended Scholar and for earning a perfect score on the ACT.

Ashlyn is the daughter of Ken and Cameo Melichar of Hewitt. In addition to her perfect ACT score, she is also an AP Scholar with Distinction. Ashlyn received a superior rating on a class one vocal solo at the UIL State Solo and Ensemble competition and is a three-year choir member. She also serves as HOSA treasurer and competes in Science UIL. Outside of school, she is a Youth Delegate on the Central Texas Soccer Referee Association Board of Directors and a varsity soccer referee, takes guitar lessons and voice lessons, and is a member of Central United Methodist Church. Ashlyn plans to attend either A&M or the University of Texas to study Biomedical Engineering as an undergraduate and hopes to complete a PhD related to medical research.

Midway’s other National Merit Commended scholars are as follows:

Sasha Barrera is the daughter of Janet and Mark Barrera of Robinson. Sasha attended the American Overseas School of Rome from grades 9-11. She is an AP Scholar with Distinction, winner of her school talent show in 2019, and was named Varsity Scholar-Athlete of the Year in 2020 and 2021. She served as captain of her varsity girls’ track team for three years and ran cross country for two years. Sasha is also a member of the Global Issues Network, National Honor Society, Italian Honor Society and the Meistersingers Varsity Choir. Outside of school, she enjoys varsity cheerleading and music as a talented singer and guitar player. After graduation, Sasha plans to pursue studies in the field of social sciences at a university. 

Sam Battle is the son of Drs. Jake and Soo Battle of Waco. Sam is a member of the National Honor Society, an AP Scholar with Honor, captain and two-year letterman of the Varsity football team, and a three-year recipient of the Spirit of Midway Award for volunteerism. Outside of school, Sam is involved with Teen Leadership Waco and is a member of First Methodist Church of Waco. He volunteers regularly at the Advocacy Center and other local nonprofits in the community. Upon graduation, Sam plans to attend the University of Texas in the Plan II Honors Program.

Ava Clevenger is the daughter of Josh and Lisa Clevenger of McGregor. Ava is a member of the National Honor Society and the Midway High School Chamber Singers. She is also involved in the art program, is a National Spanish Exam gold and silver medalist, and an AP Scholar with Distinction. Ava has earned a place in the TMEA Region Choir for the past three years and received a superior rating on her State UIL Solo. As an active volunteer in the local community, she is a four-year Spirit of Midway Award recipient, has been a member of the National Charity League Waco Chapter since 2016, and serves as Co-President of her NCL class this year. Ava was also a Waco Symphony Belle last year and is a member of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church Youth Community, serving as an acolyte on some Sundays. After graduation, she plans to continue her studies in psychology and religion.

Inoo Jo is the son of Hwasun and Jangho Jo of Hewitt. Inoo is a four-year member of the Computer Science Club as well as a member of the National Honor Society. He takes part in numerous academic competitions including UIL Math, UIL Computer Science and Debate. Inoo also participates in the Air Force Association’s CyberPatriot competition and outside of school he plays in the Waco Symphony Youth Orchestra.  

Evan Jones is the son of Stephen and Karen Jones. As a member of the symphony orchestra, Evan competes in UIL Solo and Ensemble and has earned a combination of 1s and 2s for his performances. He also made All-Region in piano in 2019 and 2020 as well as All-Region in bass in 2020. Additionally, Evan is a member of the National Honor Society and he competes in Academic UIL, earning first place in Science and second place in Mathematics and Number Sense at District in 2020. Upon graduation, Evan plans to attend either the University of Texas at Austin or Texas A&M University to pursue a degree in chemical engineering. 

Drew Kedersha is the son of Scott and Kristen Kedersha of Waco. He is a member of the Midway High School Meistersingers, Chamber Singers, Cross Country team, Blue Crew, National Honor Society and the musical. Prior to moving to Midway the summer before his junior year, Drew participated in soccer, track, varsity choir, cross country and show choir. Outside of school, Drew is involved in the youth group at Harris Creek Baptist church where he serves as a worship leader and as part of the Student Leadership Team. His high school leadership positions have included cross country captain, choir vice president and student government class representative as a sophomore. Drew is an AP Scholar with Distinction, a TMEA Texas Music Scholar, and has received multiple Outstanding Solo awards. Drew’s future plans include attending college to major in either Commercial Music or Computer Science, or a combination of the two. 

Heidi Kuang is the daughter of Weidong Kuang and Lora Tu of Woodway. Heidi excels in both academics and athletics as a member of the swim team and the National Honor Society. She has also earned numerous academic awards including being named a National Spanish Exam gold medalist and an AP Scholar with Distinction. After graduation, Heidi plans to pursue further studies in computer science. 

Caleb Lively is the son of Lauren and Michael Lively of McGregor. Caleb is a member of the National Honor Society and is a National German Exam honorable mention. He was also invited to the Envision Aerospace and Aviation Academy at Rice University. Caleb serves as captain of one of Midway’s robotics teams and outside of school he volunteers with Habitat for Humanity. Caleb hopes to attend the Colorado school of Mines where he will study engineering. 

Carson Lutz is the son of Lori Lutz of Waco. Carson is a Texas Music Teachers Association State Finalist in the Piano Performance Contest, a third place state medalist in UIL Literary Criticism and a National Spanish Exam gold medalist. He serves as the Midway Band Head Drum Major, National Honor Society President and Spanish Club Co-President, and is a member of the UIL Literary Criticism and Spelling and Vocabulary teams. Carson is also an AP Scholar with Distinction, Spirit of Midway Award recipient and Student Council Member. In the community, Carson is involved in the Young Men’s Service League where he served as former president. He is also a piano student of Dr. Brian Marks and Dr. Jani Parsons and a music theory student of Dr. Amy Fleming. Following graduation, Carson hopes to attend Yale University and major in political science and/or music. 

Piya Patel is the daughter of Priti and Vikas Patel of Waco. Piya is a member of the National Honor Society and serves as the online editor for the Panther Post. She is also active in the community and has completed a marketing internship with Digital Media Butterfly in addition to volunteering to teach creative writing through the Hewitt Public Library. After graduation, Piya plans to attend either Rice, U.T. Austin or Baylor to study business and marketing as well as writing and literature. 

Matthew Shirley is the son of Doyle and Ann Shirley of McGregor. Matthew is a Spirit of Midway Award recipient for his achievements in volunteerism and a member of the National Honor Society. He competes in UIL Academics in Science and Math and also participates in Robotics. In the community, Matthew serves as a volunteer basketball coach. His plans after graduation are to attend either Columbia University or Washington University in St. Louis to study architecture.

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Additionally, seven Midway High School students were recognized by the College Board’s National Hispanic Recognition Program and one student was recognized by the College Board’s National Indigenous Recognition Program. These programs identify academically outstanding students who excelled on the PSAT/NMSQT or PSAT 10 by scoring among the top 10% of students in Texas.

Congratulations to Midway’s College Board National Hispanic Recognition Program Scholars:

Alejandro Bouchard is the son of Martha and Andrew Bouchard of McGregor. Alejandro is a recipient of the AP Scholar Award, the Congress Future Medical Leaders Award of Excellence and the All-Academics Patch. His school involvement has included vice president of Theoretical Physics, member of the National Society of High School Scholars, Student Council, MHS Foodies and Spanish Club, contrabass in orchestra, UIL and Solo and Ensemble competitions. Alejandro is also the co-founder and president of an out-of-school philosophy club, has spent time volunteering at the Caritas food bank and works at Common Grounds. Over the summer, Alejandro attended classes at Harvard where he hopes to continue his education after graduation studying biology or chemistry with the goal of becoming a cardiovascular surgeon or a neurosurgeon.

Brandon Raimondo is the son of Jeff and Claudia Raimondo of Waco. As a bass player, Brandon received a division one rating at the UIL Solo and Ensemble regional competition, qualified for All-State Orchestra this year, and has earned a place in the All-Region Orchestra for the past three years. He was also awarded National Spanish Exam honorable mention for the past two years. Brandon is a member of both the Midway Symphony and Midway Jazz Orchestras as well as the Spanish Club and the Foodies Club. Outside of school, he is involved in the Waco Symphony Youth Orchestra and the Central Texas String Academy. Brandon is also a member of the St. Alban’s Episcopal Church Youth Community. After graduation, Brandon plans to pursue further studies in computer science or engineering. 

Cielo Ochoa is the daughter of Erick and Veronica Mancha of Waco. Cielo is a recipient of both the All-Academics Patch and the Panther Pride Award. She is involved in varsity theatre and serves as Midway band chaplain in addition to being a representative for both the LEAD Program and the Diversity Council. Cielo participates in the AVID Program and National Honor Society and is a former member of HOSA and the Spanish Club. She is also a member of St. Jerome Catholic Church. Cielo’s future plans include attending a university to major in kinesiology on the pre-PA track to become a physician assistant.

Isabella Benson is the daughter of Grace and Nicholas Benson of Hewitt. Isabella is a National Spanish Exam gold medalist, an AP Scholar with Distinction and a second-degree black belt in taekwondo. She is a member of both the National Honor Society and the Spanish Club and has played in the Midway Orchestra for five years. Isabella also participated in FFA for two years and placed in the top 10 of the State FFA Farm and Ranch Business Management competition. Outside of school, Isabella is a member of First Woodway Baptist Church and works in management at Freddy’s Frozen Custard and Steakburgers. After graduation, Isabella hopes to attend Baylor University to pursue a degree in economics. 

Laura Arias is the daughter of Rafael and Marilu Arias of Hewitt. Laura is an AP Scholar with Honor, a two-time National Spanish Exam gold medalist and a National French Exam silver and bronze medalist. She is also a member of the Midway High School Wind Ensemble and has earned a place in the TMEA All-Region Band for two years. Laura has served on the band leadership team for three years and is currently the head section leader for the flute section. She is also a member of the National Honor Society and is a former member of the Spanish Club, French Club and FFA. Laura plans to attend either the University of Texas at Austin or Texas A&M University to pursue studies in the field of plant breeding.

Matthew Marquez is the son of Vicki and Tony Marquez. Matthew serves as president of Panther Players Troupe 4770 and is an AP Scholar with Honor. He was recognized as a national qualifier at the Texas Thespian Festival and named best witness in last year’s local mock trial tournament. He is also a member of the Spanish Club and National Honor Society and is involved in theatre and mock trial. After graduation, Matthew plans to attend the University of Texas at Austin and major in history. 

Thomas Warkentine is the son of Angie and Brian Warkentine of Waco. Thomas is involved in numerous activities at Midway including robotics and powerlifting. He is also a member of the Spanish Club. Outside of school, Thomas works at Kumon and gives back to the community by volunteering at the Hewitt Public Library.

Congratulations also to Midway’s College Board National Indigenous Recognition Program Scholar:

Reeve Tarter is the son of Amy and Noel Tarter of Waco. Reeve is recognized as a Yale Young Global Scholar, an Advanced Placement Scholar, and is in the top 2% of his class academically. He runs varsity cross country and serves as cross country team captain. During this year’s cross country season he earned second place in district, went on to run at regionals where he placed in the top 10, and advanced to compete in the 6A State Cross Country Meet. Reeve is also a two-year recipient of the Spirit of Midway Award for his volunteer service and is a member of the varsity track & field team, the MHS Foodies Club and the Ultimate Frisbee Club. In the community, Reeve volunteers at Shepherd’s Heart, is the president and founder of a community-orientated volunteer organization called Leo’s Club, and is involved in the youth group at Highland Baptist Church.

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