By Conrad Dudderar
Senior Staff Writer
One Yukon High School senior stood above her classmates this year as the school’s only National Merit Scholar.
Halle Funkhouser, a valedictorian of the YHS Class of 2020, has earned a college-sponsored National Merit Scholar award.
“I feel really proud to be chosen from among my peers to be given such an honorable award,” Halle said. “It’s one of the first major achievements that I’ve received.”
Halle, who had an unweighted 3.9 GPA in high school, will attend Oklahoma State University this fall with initial plans to pursue a degree in the mathematics field.
“I’ve always been interested in math,” she said. “I’m considering doing a pre-med math major and I may attend medical school after earning my math degree.
“I am interested in math. I’ve always liked it a lot – it’s my favorite class.”
She earned second place in the trigonometry competition at Southwest Oklahoma State University’s Southwestern Interscholastic Meet.
Halle is being honored by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation as one of 4,100 college-sponsored Merit Scholarship recipients. These Merit Scholar winners were chosen from a talented pool of more than 15,000 finalists in the 2020 National Merit Scholarship Program.
Halle leaves YHS after participating in the 611-member Class of 2020’s Virtual Graduation ceremony last week.
“Some of my best memories were just making friends,” she said. “Yukon is the school that I’ve attended the longest after I moved around a lot. It was nice to be part of an actual school and not just a ‘new kid’ again.”
The daughter of Lena Funkhouser, Halle started in Yukon Public Schools as an eighth-grader at Yukon Middle School.
“By my senior year, I had so many friends and got to attend all the football games and senior activities,” she said. “That was really nice.
“I’m just really grateful that my mom raised me, helped me through school so much and always pushed me to excel. As a single mother, she’s put a lot of time and effort into my whole life. I’m just grateful that she was so great.”
‘GREAT’ TEACHERS, ‘SUPER-NICE’ PRINCIPAL
The bright college-bound scholar was notified that she had achieved National Merit status by YHS Principal Melissa Barlow.
“I had a lot of great teachers,” Halle said. “Especially all my math teachers – they were really great. Mrs. Barlow is super-nice. She made me feel really proud of myself this last year after I received my award.”
In offering her congratulations, Barlow said YHS is exceptionally proud of Halle for earning this distinguished accomplishment of being a National Merit Scholar.
“I am delighted that Halle has earned this honor for her hard work and dedication to academics,” the principal said. “She is an outstanding young adult whose dedication has transformed into being named a National Merit Scholar.”
National Merit scholars like Halle were selected by a committee of college admissions officers and high school counselors.
The committee appraised a substantial amount of information submitted by both the finalists and their high schools: Academic record, Preliminary SAT (PSAT)/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (NMSQT) scores, contributions and leadership in school and community activities, an essay written by the finalist, and recommendation written by a high school official.
Halle was asked about her plans at OSU – and her vision for the future.
“I’m probably going to join a sorority and would like to join an art club,” the Miller and future Cowboy said.
“In 10 years, I’m hoping that I’ll be financially stable, have a good job and be using my degree. And hopefully I’ll have a husband by then while keeping in touch with my family.”
The National Merit Scholarship Corporation annually honors three groups of Merit Scholar winners: College-sponsored awards, college-sponsored awards and $2,500 National Merit scholarships.
By the end of the 2020 program, about 7,600 students will have earned the “Merit Scholar” title and received a total of over $30 million in college scholarships.