Lees named National Merit Semifinalist


Photo courtesy of Lees.

Gavin Cronin, News Contributor

This previously ran in our October 2021 print issue.

What do you think it takes to be the absolute best of the best?  Well, Emmaus High School senior Isabelle Lees has the answers to what she does to be, quite simply, the best of the best.

Lees is a National Merit Scholar Semifinalist, which is considered to be one of the most prestigious awards a high school student can receive. In early September, about 16,000 students,  approximately one-third of the 50,000 high scorers, were notified that they had qualified as semifinalists. Less than one-tenth of a percent of students who take the PSAT qualify to be a National Merit Scholar Semifinalist and Emmaus High School can say, proudly, that one of its students was able to accomplish this extreme academic feat. 

“I would attribute my academic success to hard work and just my general mindset towards schoolwork,” Lees said. “I always put my best effort into my classes and take advantage of opportunities for extra credit or even just extra practice that doesn’t have any reward other than being an additional way to review.” 

There’s no secret formula to success when it comes to being the best. Hard work and determination are the components of success in Lees’ situation. 

“Well, even if I’m just taking a tiny quiz, I’m usually nervous. That’s just the type of person that I am. However, I take every test and quiz seriously and put in the effort necessary to learn the material,” said Lees.

Consistency is key when it comes to Lees’ academic success with all school work. A good note to take from her is to never take a graded assignment for granted. Every graded assignment is an opportunity to better yourself when it comes to schoolwork. 

“My typical routine is usually going to school, running at cross country or track practice, having dinner and spending a little time with my family, and then doing homework until I go to bed,” Lees said.

She said she usually sleeps about seven to eight hours, but that it really depends on how busy she is with sports, clubs, and homework.

Some people would assume that someone like Lees devotes all her free time to schoolwork and studying; this assumption is incorrect. She is extremely active when it comes to activities in school and takes time out of her schedule for her family. Lees runs cross country year-round, competes on the track team, runs winter track, is the Deputy News Editor for The Stinger,  the secretary for Gratitude Club, and a member of National Honor Society.

“When I found out about being a semifinalist, my overwhelming emotion was surprise,” Lees said. “It was the middle of the school day when I was called out of my accounting class to go to the main office and see Dr. Kieres, but I had no idea why. 

“Then I found out that I was the only semifinalist at Emmaus, which really surprised me because there are so many other intelligent students here,” she said.

Even when given such a prestigious award, Lees remains humble and gives her fellow classmates credit. She was also very grateful that Dr. Kieres allowed her to call her parents to tell them the extraordinary news before the official press release.