STJ Takes The Lead in Independent Schools
Saint James School Leads Montgomery Independent Schools
in National Merit Recipients For Second Consecutive Year
Once again, Saint James School is being recognized as the leader in educating the whole child in Central Alabama. For the second consecutive year, Saint James School hails the largest number of independent school National Merit Scholarship Semifinalists in the area. Saint James Seniors Declan Fitzpatrick and Eric Rice have been named 2018 National Merit Scholarship Program Semifinalists, a prestigious honor awarded to approximately 16,000 students nationwide, from 1,600,000 entrants.
These academically talented high school seniors across the nation have an opportunity to continue in the competition vying for one of 7,500 National Merit Scholarships that will be offered next spring. To be considered for a Merit Scholarship award, Semifinalists must fulfill several requirements to advance to the Finalist level of the competition. About 90 percent of the Semifinalists are expected to attain Finalist standing, and more than half of the Finalists will win a National Merit Scholarship, earning the Merit Scholar title.
Declan Fitzpatrick, son of Mr. and Mrs. Tim Fitzpatrick of Montgomery, entered Saint James in kindergarten after moving from New Orleans. The STJ senior has chosen Engineering as the major he will pursue in college; he came to this decision through the years of support and encouragement he received by the Saint James faculty and staff. With his sights set on what’s ahead, Declan explained, “My dream college is Vanderbilt University – I chose it because of the rich history and respected reputation of the university, the level of academic rigor offered, and the vibrant campus life the students enjoy situated in the heart of Nashville.”
Eric Rice, son of Mr. and Mrs. Eric Rice of Montgomery, entered Saint James School in fourth grade after moving from Texas. Through various courses he’s taken at Saint James, Eric has narrowed his field of study in college to immunology or biomedical sciences, “My anatomy class reinforced my interest in these fields.” Eric is considering three colleges, “The University of Alabama, Huntsville (UAH) offers a very personalized approach to acceptance into medical school and a cooperative environment; The University of Alabama, Birmingham (UAB) allows great research opportunities and has new undergraduate majors in the medical field; and The University of South Alabama (USA) has a modern campus and patient simulators as well as an on-campus treatment facility to allow students to better interact with patients.”
Both Declan and Eric are exemplary students in the classroom and in their extracurricular pursuits. Declan, an honor student at Saint James, has a full schedule outside of his academics. He is one of the two Drum Majors for the Saint James Marching Band, sings with the high school choir, and performs in the high school plays. “I was given the opportunity to pursue my passion for the arts at Saint James,” Declan said. “I grew as a person and as a performer by entering these programs as a middle school student and working my way through the ranks; now, as a senior, I am serving as a leader in a school environment that supports and promotes collaboration in all that we do. I know the experiences I have had at Saint James are providing me the skills I will need to succeed in college and in my career.” Eric, also an honor student at Saint James is very involved in the Saint James Band program as well. “I enjoy the camaraderie of the band,” Eric explained. “We are working together for a purpose – all working toward the same goal. It is fun to be able to do that every day with my friends. We have the opportunity to travel outside of Montgomery several times during the year to band contests; this time away provides us more time to spend together, playing our music, and working as a team. For us, performing together is what makes band special. We depend on each other.”
In preparation for leaving home and leaving high school behind, Eric was asked what his favorite part of the school day was; he replied definitively, “Philosophy. I really like how the course encourages critical thinking and observation. While my career in the medical field has not waned, I do hope to take philosophy courses in college.” As Declan reflected on his days at Saint James, he said, “I have enjoyed the interactions I have had with my supportive teachers; they have always provided me with guidance and encouraged me to do my very best.” After these introspective remarks, the two young men were asked what advice they would give to an underclassman, now that they are just months away from high school graduation. Eric’s reply included a subtle challenge he has no doubt learned to appreciate, “Some of your hardest classes will end up being the most enjoyable of your high school years.” And Declan’s advice included a warning for the younger students to heed, “Do not take for granted the resources available in front of you; don’t let time run out.”
Through the years, these two seniors embraced all that Saint James School offered and this reward is richly deserved. The prestigious recognition as a National Merit Scholarship Program Semifinalist will avail many new opportunities for Declan and Eric as they embark on the next chapter of their lives.
National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC), a not-for-profit organization that operates without government assistance, was established in 1955 specifically to conduct the annual National Merit Scholarship Program. Scholarships are underwritten by NMSC with its own funds and by approximately 420 business organizations, company foundations, professional associations, and higher education institutions that share NMSC’s goals of honoring the nation’s scholastic champions and encouraging the pursuit of academic excellence.