Happy Valley student’s SAT score earns National Merit honors

Published 3:03 pm Friday, September 30, 2022

By Danielle Morin
Elizabethton Star
Happy Valley High School’s Gracyn Carter was recently named a National Merit Semi-Finalist, a title given to high school sophomores and juniors who score exceptionally high on the SATs.
Carter said she was informed of the honor on Sept. 14 after scoring an impressive 1560 out of 1600 on the test her junior year. Now a senior, Carter said she is working hard to make it as a finalist, an honor that is accompanied by substantial college scholarships and admissions opportunities.
Carter says the next step is to fill out and submit an application along with a well-worded essay. She likened the experience to that of completing and submitting college applications. Once submitted, the National Merit Scholarship Program then chooses which semi-finalists will be named National Merit Finalists. Carter says she “feels confident” that she will go on to become one of the lucky finalists, something she says will “help bump me in the right direction,” especially with the cost of college admissions continuing to rise.
But it is not just admission costs that motivated Carter to pursue the scholarship program. Carter is an aspiring mechanical engineering major and has her sights set on some competitive colleges including Vanderbilt University, Georgia Tech, and MIT. She said whether she receives the scholarship or not, the title alone is one that will enhance her college applications and is hopeful it will help her stand out from fellow applicants.
Carter said she is fortunate to attend a school like Happy Valley High School that focuses on career-oriented classes in addition to regular academics. Carter was able to take a CAD course (Computer-Aided Design) as well as participate in a robotics team that competes annually and challenges students to design functioning robots to complete specific tasks. Carter says both the class and extracurricular robotics program has not only allowed her to widen her understanding of mechanical design, but has also helped solidify her interest in the field. In addition to the opportunities she has received in the classroom, Carter said the staff and teachers of Happy Valley have made an enormous impact on her academic excellence and achievements, specifically calling out her Geometry and Spanish teacher, Susan Burns. Carter called Burns a mentor, saying that “she is endlessly supportive,” and further explaining, “if I ever need help or anything, I can just go to her and talk to her.”
Although she has big aspirations, Carter says she is thankful for everything she has achieved so far and is excited to see what her future will hold.

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