Union High student earns ‘prestigious’ semi-finalist honor

Lauren Williams Staff Writer

October 2, 2013

When Union High School senior Claire Teachey took the PSATs, a standardized test that helps prepare students to take the SATs and serves as the qualifying test for National Merit Scholarships, she didn’t expect her efforts to be as good as they turned out to be. Her scores ultimately earned her a semi-finalist spot in the competition for a National Merit Scholarship.

Even though it has been about a week since she learned of her semi-finalist status, Teachey is still reeling from the honor.

“I’m excited,” she shared with a smile. “I was a little bit surprised to do so well on a standardized test but now I’m looking forward to the application process. I think it will be good practice for college applications.”

To continue to be considered for a National Merit Scholarship, Teachey must soon complete a finalist application.

“The school submits her course history and a letter of recommendation,” explained Union High School guidance counselor Jessica Tyndall of the finalist application requirements, “and she submits her extracurricular activities and then has to write an essay.”

Pointing out that Teachey was one of 16,000 semi-finalists chosen from across the country and that she has the potential to become one of the 8,000 students chosen to receive a National Merit Scholarship, Tyndall added that “this is the first year for us to have someone qualify so we’re very excited for Claire.”

Union High School principal Julie Hunter also expressed her excitement for Teachey, describing the Garland youth as “an outstanding student who takes responsibility for her learning.”

For Teachey, taking that responsibility isn’t a chore because she loves to learn and knows that she has the study techniques she needs under her belt and has “the ability to connect what I learn to the things that interest me,” something she credits to both her home school background and to the now two years she has spent at Union High School.

“I love English; I love to read,” she said as she named English as one of her favorite classes in high school, adding that she is also fond of the math classes she has had the opportunity to take through the county school system’s partnership with the North Carolina School of Math and Science.”I’m glad they do that (partnership). It’s challenging, and with good teachers, I’m learning a lot and really enjoying it.”

In addition to being a dedicated high school student, Teachey is also involved in extracurricular activities which include planning to take part in Union High School’s new drama club this year, participating in the school’s Future Farmers of America (FFA) chapter last year, and making time for horse-back riding outside of school.

Even though early in her senior year of high school, Teachey continues to take responsibility for her education by thinking ahead to college and how she would like to further her education, something she hopes a National Merit Scholarship will help her pursue.

“I’d like to earn a degree in the humanities, in English, Philosophy, or Religious Studies,” Teachey shared, noting that she has not yet decided on the particular college she would like to attend. “I’d like to do something to strengthen my creative writing skills during college.”

“She’s got good attendance, great academics, and a great attitude which is what we want all of our students to have. She’s a model student; she does what she is supposed to do,” praised Hunter. “Being named semi-finalist is prestigious honor and we’re very proud of her.”

Teachey is the daughter of Philip Teachey and Cindy Shillady.

According to its website, “the mission of National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) is to recognize and honor the academically talented students of the United States. NMSC accomplishes its mission by conducting nationwide academic scholarship programs. The enduring goals of NMSC’s scholarship programs are: To promote a wider and deeper respect for learning in general and for exceptionally talented individuals in particular; To shine a spotlight on brilliant students and encourage the pursuit of academic excellence at all levels of education; To stimulate increased support from organizations that wish to sponsor scholarships for outstanding scholastic talent.”

Lauren Williams can be reached at 910-592-8137, ext. 117 or via email at