Riachi reaches semifinal round of National Merit Scholarship competition

Story by Cassidy Bayliss, Reporter

Photo by: Ross Laidler
Senior Andrew Riachi plays the saxophone at a home football game. Riachi, who’s also involved in vocal music, Technology Student Association and First Robotics, was named a National Merit Scholarship semifinalist this month.

On Sept. 12, principal Phil Bressler announced senior Andrew Riachi as a National Merit Scholarship semifinalist.

Riachi is one of four students in the last ten years to qualify for this scholarship.

“Having the opportunity to do that is pretty cool,” Riachi said.“I am very happy with this recognition.”

Although the first step in qualifying for the scholarship is scoring in the top percent of the state on the PSAT, there are also other factors in earning the scholarship, such as the PSAT & SAT score and student’s essay and the high school’s recommendation.

Former PHS math teacher Rhonda Willis thinks highly of Riachi, whom she had as a student for honors geometry, honors algebra II and precalculus.

Willis looks forward to watching RIachi after high school.

“He’s not satisfied with just being smart,” Willis said. “He’s willing to work hard to educate himself and make sure that he puts a lot of information into that highly intelligent brain of his.”

Although Riachi is academically driven, he puts a lot of pressure on himself.

“Honestly, [the thing that motivates me] might be [my] passion for learning,” Riachi said. “I’ve had some points where I put a lot of pressure on myself. When I do that, I don’t enjoy learning as much.”

Riachi has already taken the SAT for the final round of scoring to receive the scholarship.

He is also involved in FIRST Robotics, Technology Student Association (TSA) and was involved in the 2017 Kansas State Honor Choir.

“I take more pride in what I figure out on my own,” Riachi said. “When I solve a certain problem or when I learn [about] new technology.”

Building principals will be notified of the qualifying finalists on Feb. 4, but are not allowed to tell finalists until Feb. 11, in which Riachi and other semi-finalists will be notified by letter.