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A Jesuit College Preparatory Experience

Meet Loyola’s Seven National Merit Semifinalists

In September, the National Merit Scholarship Corporation named seven Loyola Academy students National Merit semifinalists. The National Merit Scholarship Program honors individual students who show exceptional academic ability and potential for success in rigorous college studies.
The nationwide pool of semifinalists represents less than one percent of U.S. high school seniors and includes the highest scoring entrants in each state. Over 1.6 million juniors in about 22,000 high schools entered the 2019 National Merit Scholarship Program by taking the 2017 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT), which served as an initial screen of program entrants.

These academically talented high school seniors have an opportunity to continue in the competition for some 7,500 National Merit Scholarships worth approximately $31 million that will be awarded in the spring.

The Loyola community congratulates the following seven seniors from the Class of 2019:

Christopher HaraChristopher R. Hara
In college, Christopher R. Hara plans to study finance with some form of applied math in hopes of landing a business opportunity with a firm. "I see myself working with numbers in the future," he says. It comes as no surprise, then, that Christopher's favorite class at Loyola has been calculus with Ms. Thelander. "It was difficult, but we were given much freedom to learn," he says. Christopher also participates on Loyola's volleyball team and has done so for three years.

Brendan HeringBrendan J. Hering
"Loyola has provided me opportunities to pursue challenging classes that further my academic interests while also offering athletic and service programs to make me a well-rounded person," says Brendan J. Hering, who has balanced four years on the lacrosse team with leadership in the Clavius Scholars Honors Program, the Math Team, the Torch Club and the LA Way Program. His favorite class has been AP Statistics with Ms. Van Lieshout because he enjoyed the process of applying math and statistical tests to situations encountered in the real world. Service work completed in the Sacred Heart religious education program and at the Maryhaven Nursing and Rehabilitation Center and the Howard Family Center have provided opportunities for Brendan to grow outside the classroom and give back to the community. "At Howard, every time I would walk into the classroom, a young boy I worked with would shout my name and run over to me, asking if I could read him his favorite book," Brendan says. "He liked the way I read the book, so I read it to him every week." In college, Brendan plans to study business to pursue his interests in finance and economics.       

Ryan HeringRyan M. Hering
Ryan M. Hering is a dedicated student-athlete who strives for excellence both in and out of the classroom. His favorite class at Loyola is AP Physics 2 with Mr. Kevin Warnke. "The hands-on nature of the class as well as the real world application of the material made it enjoyable and interesting," he says. Ryan is a four-year member of the lacrosse team, and he participates on the Math Team, the Torch Club and on the student leadership council of the Clavius Scholars Honors Program. He has his sights set on pursuing a degree in either business or economics in college. His service experience includes volunteering at the Maryhaven Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, teaching religious education at Sacred Heart Parish and working with refugee children from Kenya at the Howard Family Center—an experience he calls "eye opening."

Jack RileyJack P. Riley
Aspiring neurosurgeon Jack P. Riley often spends his free time watching videos of surgery or researching new techniques and practices. "I want to major in biology and follow a pre-med track while also minoring in Chinese," he says. Jack's ambition is grounded in a practical sense of the path that lies ahead adding, "I know I'll still be in school 10 years from now." As a student at Loyola, Jack participates on the Moody's Mega Math (M3) challenge team, is captain of the Math Modeling Club and a member of the Chinese and Ping Pong Clubs. Through the Arrupe Service Program, he tutors elementary students and recalls a time when he spent hours teaching one student how to add, subtract, multiply and divide fractions. "Seeing his face light up when he finally understood how to complete the problems brought me immense joy," he says. In the classroom, multivariable calculus with Ms. Thelander has been Jack's favorite endeavor because of its countless applications to real word problems. "The host of great teachers and rigorous classes at Loyola have helped me accomplish my goals," he says. Without some of the brilliant teachers at this school, I wouldn't have the knowledge or the passion for my studies that I have today."   

Ned SeamanNathaniel M. Seaman
"My Loyola education has helped me become a renaissance man of sorts," says Nathaniel M. Seaman, who, in Spring 2018, founded Loyola's Math Modeling Club, which brings together students to solve real-world problems with abstract mathematical concepts. His favorite classes at Loyola have been AP Calculus BC with Ms. Mallory Thelander and AP Chemistry with Mr. James Rice, both of which he credits for teaching him new methods of conceptual thinking accompanied by interesting applications "like volumes of 3D figures in calculus or acid base equilibria in chemistry," he says. When he's not in the classroom, Nathaniel dedicates time as a midfielder on the varsity lacrosse team and is member of Insignis, the Math Team and the Clavius Scholars Honors Program Leadership Council. You might also find him volunteering at the Howard Family Center through Loyola's Arrupe Service Program, an experience he relishes "because the kids are sweet and the caretakers are so positive." In addition to his strengths in math and science, he has an intense interest in space travel. "I constantly watch movies about space and read science fiction classics," he says. "As a result of this interest, one of my favorite hobbies is building rockets of my own." After Loyola, Nathaniel is interested in studying electrical and computer engineering with a minor in computer science, intrigued by the many career paths these fields present such as tech development, research or consulting. "Ideally, I'd like to use these skills to land a job at NASA and work on the Space Launch System booster," he says.  

Maeve SilkMaeve C. Silk
When Maeve C. Silk says that her favorite times at Loyola have been the opportunities to serve others, she means it. Every winter since freshman year she has volunteered in Rogers Park at Madonna Mission's afterschool tutoring program, helping refugee children with their homework and working on literacy skills. On weekends, the Dumbach Scholar and Torch Club president volunteers at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge. The summer before her junior year was spent in West Virginia with Loyola's Summer Service and Immersion Program, where she worked at the Appalachian Institute helping at a soup kitchen, daycare center, church community center and urban garden. "I had the opportunity to learn more about the economic and environmental injustices faced by the people of Appalachia through my interactions with the individuals I met there," she reflects. And, this past summer, Maeve worked at Chicago Jesuit Academy through the Province Scholars Program, assisting seventh grade math students. A four-year tennis player and member of yearbook and Certamen (Latin team), her favorite subjects are Latin, history and English. She plans to study liberal arts next year and hopes to incorporate her interest in social justice in her education and career. "At Loyola, I have been blessed to be a part of a caring, supportive community and given the chance to explore new things and develop my interests through classes and extracurricular activities," Maeve says. "The support I have received from my classmates, friends and teachers during my time at Loyola has enabled me to learn and experience personal growth."

Kaitlin ZelinskiKaitlin M. Zelinski
In October 2018, Kaitlin M. Zelinski completed the Bank of America Chicago Marathon, what she hopes is her first of many marathons to come. "I love to run!" she says. "I use many of my races as a way to raise money for different charities. I hope to run Chicago again next year and work on finishing each of the major marathons in the near future." As a junior, after a schoolwide curriculum change now requires freshman to take physics, Kaitlin and a friend began a physics peer-tutoring program at Loyola. And, when she's not helping fellow Ramblers with physics homework, projects and test review, Kaitlin volunteers at Highland Park Hospital, where she manages communications in the surgical waiting room and at the front desk, acting as a liaison between surgeons and patients' families. This role and a summer internship at the University of Pennsylvania where she shadowed doctors and specialists throughout their rounds have helped Kaitlin narrow down an interest in sports medicine, specifically sports injuries and trauma. But sometime before she heads to medical school she would like to teach overseas. "I'm really interested in foreign languages and cultures, and I would love to extend my practice and service abroad," she says.  

In addition, Loyola is proud to recognize the following National Merit Commended students:
  • Jack Burke
  • Courtney Carreira
  • Nolan Chow
  • Isaac Conner
  • Mary Denten
  • Thomas Dowdle
  • Bridget Hickey
  • Michael Kadus
  • Eleanor Kroeger
  • Steven Lymperis
  • Jack Lynch
  • Brian Solmos
  • William Sweetnam

Our Mission

To form women and men for meaningful lives of leadership and service in imitation of Jesus Christ through a college preparatory education in the Jesuit, Catholic tradition.
Loyola Academy admits students of any race, color and national origin or ethnic origin.