Valley Student Yoder Recognized As National Merit Semifinalist

Tippecanoe Valley High School senior Kirstyn Yoder (C) stands with her parents Chris and Tracy Yoder after Monday night’s school board meeting where she was recognized for being named a National Merit Scholarship semifinalist. She scored in the top 1% of students in the nation taking the SAT. Photo by Amanda Bridgman

MENTONE – Tippecanoe Valley High School senior Kirstyn Yoder was recognized at Monday night’s school board meeting for being a National Merit Scholarship semifinalist.

TVHS Principal Brandon Kresca introduced Kirstyn and her parents at the meeting and said she was one of 16,000 semifinalists chosen out of 1.5 million applicants.

The National Merit Scholarship Program is a United States academic scholarship competition for recognition and university scholarships administered by the National?Merit Scholarship Corporation, a privately funded, not-for-profit organization based in Evanston, Ill.

Kresca said to even be able to qualify, Kirstyn had to score in the top 1% on the SAT in the entire nation, and that Kirstyn’s taken “just about every AP and dual credit course we offer.”? Kresca also noted her involvement in sports and clubs – she’s played softball all four years of high school, is a member of the National Honor Society, Leo Lions Club, both the science and math academic teams, the Girls Who Code club and last year was a part of the Kosciusko Youth Leadership Academy.

Kresca said she’s not just one of the smartest and most involved students at Tippecanoe Valley, she’s one of the smartest and most involved high school students in the nation.

“I was super excited about it and I felt really blessed that I was able to display my talents,” Kirstyn said of finding out she was a semifinalist on Sept. 4.

She is now completing the application process for finalist. More than 90 percent of semifinalists are expected to attain finalist standing, and about half of the finalists will win the National Merit Scholarship, earning the Merit Scholar title, according to the board.

Kirstyn said she’s considering six colleges to attend next year: Purdue University, Notre Dame, Northwestern, Duke, Dartmouth College and possibly Yale. She said the college she chooses will depend on what she decides to study, but she wants to be an actuary. An actuary is a person who uses advanced mathematics to analyze risk, she said, adding those jobs are usually in the insurance business but the industry for an actuary has really expanded.

In other business, the board accepted an Indiana Department of Homeland Security Secured School Safety Grant for $100,000. Lori Tilden-Geiger, TVSC’s director of marketing, public relations and grants, told the board that of the 429 grant applications received by the IDHS, only 38 were granted and funded at the maximum amount of $100,000.

Tilden-Geiger said last year the school received $50,000 for the same grant, but this year it was more competitive and not as easy to get. This year’s grant application was 22 pages, she said. However, upon assessing the schools’ safety priority plan, she said they knew they needed to go for the full $100,000.

The money will be used for cell boosters at the middle school, which will cost $72,048.26; wireless access point upgrades as recommended by the Innovation Planning Grant Infrastructure Audit for $25,791.74; and to continue the Raptor security system subscription that costs $2,160 annually.

Also Monday, the board approved the hiring of Phelix Omondi as assistant principal at the middle school. Omondi, a former Viking himself, will be seen around the halls this week.

The next Tippecanoe Valley School Corporation board meeting is 6 p.m. Oct. 14 in the public meeting room at Mentone Elementary School.