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By PAUL J. SPETRINI
NORTH KINGSTOWNâ€”Itâ€™s been a great month for Sam Finneran.
Finneran, a North Kingstown High School senior, picked up two honors last week as the NK School Committee commended him for being named as a National Merit Scholarship semifinalist and Rhode Island Congressman Jim Langevin selected him as his â€śprincipal nominationâ€ť for the U.S. Air Force Academy.
â€śThis is one of my favorite parts of the job,â€ť NK Superintendent Dr. Philip Auger said in a special presentation prior to the start of last weekâ€™s school committee meeting. â€śI would like to commend Sam Finneran for being such a fine scholar.â€ť
Explaining Finneranâ€™s distinction as a semifinalist for one of the countryâ€™s most prestigious scholarships, Auger commended the senior for his efforts in the classroom.
â€śThis distinction is based on scores from last yearâ€™s PSAT exam,â€ť Auger explained. â€śOver 1.5 million high school juniors take the PSAT each year and only 15,000, or one percent, are selected for this recognition based on their score. Itâ€™s wonderful news.â€ť
Finneranâ€™s presentation in front of the school committee came just one day after news broke that he received Langevinâ€™s endorsement.
In a press release sent last week, the congressmen lauded Finneran for his efforts as a scholar.
Finneran shared the distinction with Toll Gate High Schoolâ€™s Nina Yu, who was endorsed by Langevin for the U.S. Military Academy.
â€śCongratulations to Nina and Sam for earning these appointments through their hard work and outstanding performances in and outside of the classroom,â€ť Langevin said. â€śI am always impressed by the high volume of quality applications we receive from students eager to serve their country and our youth never fail to give me great faith in our future. I thank the representatives on my advisory board for their diligence and commitment to ensuring a transparent process for making these extremely difficult decisions.â€ť
Finneranâ€™s appointment came following a consideration of applications by Langevinâ€™s independent advisory board, which the congressmen created during his first year in office to â€śensure a robust review of all applicants,â€ť is made up of local veterans of the countryâ€™s service academies and educators.
The board conducts interviews with prospective candidates and examines a number of academic measures of aptitude, including school records, College Board scores and extracurricular activities.
Finneran was selected, the release says, because he has â€śconsistently achieved at the highest level as a student at North Kingstown High School while also demonstrating a passion for service.â€ť
The NK senior was lauded for regularly taking Advanced Placement level courses, qualifying for the National Honor Society, being a â€śleader in NKHSâ€™s Junior States of America group that debates current events and political issues,â€ť and for achievements as the high schoolâ€™s first chair bassoonist, which won the student eight awards at the 2012 New York City Heritage Festival.