VALHALLA, N.Y. -- Valhalla High School senior Lucas van Bramer was named a semifinalist in the 61st annual National Merit Scholarship Program. In the 2015-16 academic year, roughly 16,000 semifinalists will vie for about 7,400 National Merit Scholarships that are worth more than $32 million.
Bramer, 17, is the only student from Valhalla High School who advanced this far in the competition. He has been in the Valhalla Union Free School District since he was 3 years old. During this time, he has participated in a variety of educational activities.
He currently belongs to the National Honor Society, the World Language Honor Society, the school’s Academic Challenge Team and the Environment Club. He was also a Joy Distenfeld Scholarship recipient, which allowed him to visit the University of Pennsylvania for a three-week robotics course over the summer.
“It’s better to be busy than to be passive,” van Bramer said with a smile. During his high school career, he particularly enjoyed his physics, calculus and English classes.
Van Bramer is also gifted athletically. He has been the captain of the tennis team since his sophomore year and the leading goaltender on the varsity hockey team. He also uses his sporting talents to volunteer at the Yonkers Tennis Center.
Van Bramer is one of 945 National Merit Scholarship semifinalists from 207 schools across New York state – and less than 1 percent of high school seniors become semifinalists. About 90 percent of the semifinalists are expected to become finalists, which will be announced in February, and roughly half of the finalists will win a scholarship, according to the National Merit Scholarship Corp.
While van Bramer has not yet committed to a college, he anticipates studying mechanical engineering and minoring in business.