Happy Valley’s Taylor named National Merit Scholar recipient

Published 10:44 pm Thursday, May 12, 2022

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Happy Valley senior Jackson Taylor has been named as a 2022 National Merit Scholar recipient. He was one of nearly 15,000 students nationwide who is a finalist for the award.

Taylor will be graduating next week as one of the valedictorians of his class and will be studying mechanical engineering at Tennessee Tech located in Cookeville beginning in the fall.

He described the path to receiving the award.

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“In the fall of your junior year the National Merit Scholarship Corporation asks for schools to organize their juniors to take the PSAT which is the practice version of the SAT,” Taylor said. “I received a $500 per year cash stipend from Tennessee Tech through the National Merit Scholarship Corporation for four years and I am getting a $3,500 scholarship from Tennessee Tech for being a National Merit Scholarship recipient.”

The National Merit Scholarship Program has qualifications for a student to participate including:
– Take the PSAT/NMSQT in the specified year of the high school program and no later than the third year in grades 9 through 12, regardless of grade classification or educational pattern.
– Be enrolled as a high school student (traditional or homeschooled), progressing normally toward graduation or completion of high school, and planning to accept admission to college no later than the fall following completion of high school.
– Attend high school in the United States, the District of Columbia, or U.S. commonwealth and territory; or meet the citizenship requirements for students attending high school outside the United States.

In February, some 15,000 semifinalists are notified that they have advanced to Finalist standing. High school principals are also notified and provided with a Certificate of Merit to present to each Finalist.

All winners of Merit Scholarship awards (are chosen from the Finalist group based on their abilities, skills, and accomplishments — without regard to gender, race, ethnic origin, or religious preference.

Along with Taylor’s plans to major in engineering, he also said he hopes to pursue a minor in music if time allows.

“I am in the band and have been since sixth grade, playing trumpet and I also am in the robotics program here at Happy Valley,” Taylor said. “I joined at the beginning of eighth-grade year. I have really enjoyed it and it is one of the reasons for going into engineering. We have gone to state in robotics every year since my sophomore year. The only reason we didn’t go in our freshman year was that we didn’t have the funding to do so.”

Taylor said that he has been in the Carter County School System his entire life attending Happy Valley Elementary, Middle, and High School.

“I want to say all the teachers that I have had have pushed me — I am going to be one of the valedictorians at graduation,” Taylor said. “I have had all A’s through school. For me personally, it wasn’t too difficult and I have taken all the AP courses that I could. The AP rubric scale is a little different on grading. This year I took Calculus B-C, Micro-Economics, and Statistics.”

He said that he is looking forward to going to Tennessee Tech because of the small-town environment because he just wasn’t a big city person. It reminded Taylor of Elizabethton in many ways.

And the fact he will have a fellow Happy Valley student as his classmate had also been comforting as he prepares to enter a different world both individually and as a student.

“My friend Ryan Eggers is going to Tennessee Tech and is who I am rooming with,” said Taylor. “He is going into bio-medic engineering. It is great because even though I am in a new place, he will be there. Having someone you know and you can talk to is going to be good.”

Jackson still can’t believe that he will be graduating high school next week.

“I don’t know if it has hit me yet,” he said. “I am going to work over the summer to help with my college but I don’t know if it has hit me yet.”

Taylor is the son of Blake and Rachel Taylor. He has a brother, Levi, and a sister, Lillia.