Scheck Hillel Community School’s Salutatorian Named National Merit® Scholar?8 Scheck Hillel Seniors Receive National Recognition

North Miami Beach, Fla. – Scheck Hillel Community School’s 2016 salutatorian Ariel Gelrud has been named a 2016 National Merit Scholar, standing out from more than 1.5 million high school students across the nation. As a winner, Gelrud has earned a $2,500 scholarship from the National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC). Gelrud will attend the University of Pennsylvania this fall.

Valedictorian Steven Bursztyn, who also will graduate to the University of Pennsylvania, and Ilana Woldenberg, who will attend Barnard College-Columbia University, have been named Finalists; Jaqueline Alman (Tulane University) is a Semi-Finalist. National Commended Scholars include Sivanne Mendelson (University of Miami), Abraham Milhem (University of Pennsylvania) and Tamar Mizrahi (Florida International University). National Hispanic Scholars include Jacqueline Alman, Steven Bursztyn, Ariel Gelrud, Abraham Milhem, Ilana Woldenberg and Joseph Wolf (University of Michigan).

“We congratulate Ariel, his peers recognized today and their families,” said Dr. Ezra Levy, Scheck Hillel’s Head of School. “To be named a National Merit Scholar is an incredible achievement, especially when we consider the rigor and competition in our nation’s schools. These students’ stellar academic records paired with their values, character and leadership are a source of pride for our Scheck Hillel school and community.”

National Merit $2500 Scholarship winners are the Finalists in each state judged to have the strongest combination of accomplishments, skills, and potential for success in rigorous college studies. These Scholars were selected by a committee of college admissions officers and high school counselors, who appraised a substantial amount of information submitted by both the Finalists and their high schools: the academic record, including difficulty level of subjects studied and grades earned; scores from two standardized tests; contributions and leadership in school and community activities; an essay written by the Finalist; and a recommendation written by a high school official.

NMSC finances most of these single-payment National Merit $2500 Scholarships. Corporations and company foundations that sponsor awards through NMSC also help underwrite these scholarships with grants they provide in lieu of paying administrative fees. Scholars may use their awards at any regionally accredited U.S. college or university.

This year’s competition for National Merit Scholarships began in October 2014 when over 1.5 million juniors in some 22,000 high schools took the Preliminary sat/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT®), which served as an initial screen of program entrants. Last fall, the highest-scoring participants in each state, representing less than one percent of the nation’s high school seniors, were named Semifinalists on a state-representational basis. Only these 16,000 Semifinalists had an opportunity to continue in the competition.

From the Semifinalist group, 15,000 students met the very high academic standards and other requirements to advance to the Finalist level of the competition. By the conclusion of the 2016 program, about 7,500 Finalists will have earned the “Merit Scholar” title and received a total of about $33 million in college scholarships.

NMSC, a not-for-profit corporation that operates without government assistance, was founded in 1955 specifically to conduct the National Merit Scholarship Program. The majority of scholarships offered each year are underwritten by approximately 440 independent corporate and college sponsors that share NMSC’s goals of honoring scholastically talented youth and encouraging academic excellence at all levels of education.

About Scheck Hillel Community School
From early childhood through Grade 12, Scheck Hillel Community School educates and inspires students to become exemplary global citizens with enduring Jewish identity, values and a commitment to the State of Israel, through a college preparatory curriculum and meaningful co-curricular experiences, guided by Orthodox teachings and set within a nurturing, diverse community. Scheck Hillel is the second-largest Jewish community day school in North America, a National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence and an International Baccalaureate® (IB) World School. For information, please visit or

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