Meet Our National Merit Scholars

Meet Our National Merit Scholars
Posted on 11/09/2018
Meet Our National Merit Scholars

Two Galesburg High School Students Earn 
National Merit Recognition

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Galesburg High School Senior Caden Wilson Galesburg High School Senior John Peterson

Photo by Renee Burton, Reneee B Photography

Two seniors at Galesburg High School prove that when you set goals and challenge yourself great things can happen. John Peterson and Caden Wilson both earned distinct honors by College Board and National Merit this fall. This recognition is based on their PSAT/NMSQT (National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test) results from last fall.

John Peterson scored in the top 2.5% among Hispanic and Latino test takers in the region. John was invited to apply for the National Hispanic Recognition Program and has been chosen as a Finalist. John is currently one of three drum majors for the Marching Streaks. He has also been Captain of the Boy’s Cross Country team for the last two years. John has been involved in Band, Cross Country, and Track for four years. John is on track for Principal Scholar and Academic Hall of Fame distinctions.  

John said the first thing that went through his mind when he found out he earned Finalist status for the National Hispanic Recognition Program was that he didn’t realize how difficult this was to earn and that people tend to underestimate how smart students really are. John feels this proves to him that he is intelligent. John said he worked hard to get good grades because he wanted to and not because anyone else told him to. He set goals for himself and he is proud of what he has done and the GPA he has earned because of this hard work.  When he entered high school he said he knew he had big aspirations and wanted to be the best student he could be.

John also believes his heritage has had an impact on him. His maternal grandfather is from Mexico and came to the United States when he was younger. John had the opportunity to visit his extended family in Mexico and he’s glad he’s had the opportunity to see and learn from the culture that he is a part of. He is really impressed with the way they carry themselves from day to day and how they gather for family meals. John said, “they will eat tacos throughout the day and night and the way they talk and visit and bond has a different feel of family down there.”

John credits AP Calculus and Mrs. Kniker for making the biggest impact on his education. John said that he originally was not a fan of math but AP Calculus opened the door to another side of math he didn’t realize existed. He enjoys learning where math formulas originate and when Mrs. Kniker takes deriving complex formulas and breaks them down into simpler formulas. Learning AP Caluclus from Mrs. Kniker has inspired John to be a high school math teacher and he hopes to someday teach AP Math courses. John is considering attending Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Missouri and majoring in education while also running Cross Country and Track.

Caden Wilson, according to National Merit, has been named a Commended Student in the 2019 National Merit Scholarship Program. Wilson is one of 34,000 Commended Students throughout the nation who are being recognized for their exceptional academic promise. Commended Students placed among the top 50,000 scorers of more than 1.6 million students who entered the 2019 competition. Caden has been Captain of the Boy’s Soccer Team and the Boy’s Track Team for the past two years. He has played Varsity Soccer for four years and participated in Varsity Track for three years. Caden is a member of the band program and has played with the Knox Galesburg Symphony for the last two years. He is very active in his church, Bethel Baptist Church, and has been a leader for Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Caden is on track for Principal Scholar and Academic Hall of Fame distinctions.

Caden said the first thing that went through his mind when he found out he earned Commended Status for National Merit, was that he was honored to be linked with some of the best and brightest high school students in the country. Caden credits courses like AP Physics I and II and AP Calculus, taught by Dave Baxter and Heather Kniker, as having an impact on his education. Caden enjoys how Mr. Baxter presents questions that force students to think beyond the material and use math and science in creative ways. Caden also appreciates how Mrs. Kniker motivates her students in AP Calculus to work hard and not give up no matter how difficult the material is. Caden obviously has challenged himself to get to this point. He took advanced math courses at GHS in 8th grade and pushed himself to take difficult classes as an underclassman. He said he would tell other students with similar goals “to realize you are capable of more and don’t talk yourself out of being able to learn. Just because it’s challenging for you doesn’t mean you can’t do it.”

Caden plans to attend the United States Air Force Academy.  This has been a goal of his since he was in second grade. His dad is Chaplain for the Air National Guard and he has been around the Air Force for about 10 years. Caden would like to be able to fly but is really intrigued by the possibilities within the field of engineering. He likes the idea of using creative ways to help people and being able to use his math and science skills to protect and serve our country.

-Article submitted by Ben Bredemeier, Galesburg High School Counselor

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