2 seniors achieve National Merit Commended Status

Matt Catalano and Veronika Durr each received a Letter of Commendation for their high PSAT scores.
Posted on 09/29/2020
Logo for the National Merit Scholarship Program By Gary Weckselblatt

Two Quakertown Community High School seniors are being recognized for their exceptional academic promise by the 2021 National Merit Scholarship Program. 

Matt Catalano and Veronika Durr each received a Letter of Commendation for their outstanding performance on the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying test in 2019. Earlier this month, Michael Dennis was recognized for qualifying as National Merit Scholarship Semifinalist.

QCHS senior Matt Catalano
   Matt Catalano
"These students have worked very hard to qualify for this achievement,” Principal Mattias van't Hoenderdaal said. “These accomplishments are a testament to their efforts, and the outstanding job our teachers are doing in the classroom. Matt and Veronika are developing themselves into responsible adults and will have wonderful opportunities. They are fine examples for our students to follow.”

Matt scored 1,450 on the PSAT while Veronika scored a 1,430.

According to the National Merit Scholarship Program, more than 1.6 million students took these tests. The 50,000 highest scorers - the top 3 percent - are being recognized. Approximately 16,000 of those high performers were recently designated National Merit Scholarship Semifinalists. The next 34,000 achieve Commended Student status.

“It’s really exciting to hear you did well on this,” said Matt, a point guard on the Panthers basketball team. “I’m excited for Veronika and Michael as well. They definitely deserve it.”

QCHS senior Veronika Durr 
Veronika Durr 
Veronika, a member of the Marching Band’s Color Guard, said she was “excited and proud” of her achievement and hopes it will help her get into college. She is considering Case Western Reserve University in Ohio for biomedical engineering but said she has “a long list” of schools she plans to visit.

Each student has taken advantage of the 32 Advanced Placement courses available at the high school. No senioritis for either as their schedules are loaded with five AP classes each. Both are taking U.S. Government and English Literature. Matt also includes Computer Science, Physics C and Statistics. Veronika has Biology, Calculus BC and Chemistry.

Besides their course load, Matt and Veronika are heavily involved in after-school activities. Besides Marching Band, Veronika belongs to the Key Club and Math Club. Matt is president of the Key Club and National Honors Society and a member of Student Council.

Matt is considering majoring in Finance and attending MIT, Penn or Villanova. Matt said his parents have told him to work hard, find an area he’s passionate about and focus to excel at it. He’s thankful to his counselor, Douglass Detweiler, and his teachers for their support. “All of my teachers have been great,” he said. “They want everybody to do well.”

Veronika said she appreciates the district’s wide-ranging opportunities. “There are just so many opportunities here to reach out for a higher learning experience,” she said.

In recent years, National Merit has recognized multiple QCHS seniors. Last year, Melissa Nong was a Finalist with Ian Cummings, Tyler Einolf and Sierra Lee were Commended students. The prior year Mikayla Fuentes and Adria Retter were Finalists with Nam Le and Hailey Reiss achieving Commended status.

“I believe more and more of our students will challenge themselves and follow these examples,” Mr. V said.

Gary Weckselblatt, QCSD Director of Communications, writes about the people and the programs that impact the Quakertown Community School District. He can be reached at 215-529-2028 or [email protected].
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