Akira Takabayashi a finalist for the National Merit Scholar program

LIHUE — Kauai High School senior Akira Takabayashi did something “extremely rare” Wednesday.

Takabayashi received notification he is a finalist for the National Merit Scholar program.

“Akira becomes one of the top 15,000 high school students in the nation,” said his counselor, Charles Fulks. “In a few weeks, there will be an announcement declaring the winners which will be the 7,500 students chosen.”

Earlier, Takabayashi was joined by fellow students Sydney Brady and Trevor Passmore in being named semifinalists for the National Merit Scholar program. The students earned this honor by performing “exceptionally well” on the PSAT and SAT tests, Fulks said.

“This is extremely rare,” Fulks said. “The last Kauai High School student to make the National Merit Scholar mention was in 2009, Marissa Hoglen. I donʼt known of any other Kauai student who has reached this level in recent history. Akira is only one of two students to make finalist in the last 20 years on Kauai.”

“I guess it’s an honor,” he said. “I don’t really remember doing the tests. I think I took the PSAT when I was in the 10th grade. I took the SAT when I was a junior, and I haven’t taken it during my senior year.”

Takabayashi said he is pretty nervous about graduating in May. He plans to study physics or computer science.

Fulks said having recognition by the National Merit Scholar program is a great accomplishment for any student and should be included in their applications to college and university.

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