Covington, Fontanella named National Merit Commended Students

Pictured are (from left) Enterprise High School Principal Brent Harrison and National Merit Commended Students Eleanor Covington and Gabriel Fontanella.

The National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) has recognized two Enterprise High School students for their scholastic talents.

Seniors Eleanor Covington and Gabriel Fontanella were named Commended Students in the 2020 National Merit Scholarship Program. Both students will receive an official Letter of Commendation, on behalf of EHS and NMSC, presented by EHS Principal Brent Harrison.

National Merit Commended Scholars are a selected group of students who placed among the top 50,000 on the 2018 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. Over 1.5 million students entered the 2020 National Merit Competition by taking the PSAT/NMSQT.

Although they will not continue in the 2020 competition for National Merit Scholarship awards, around 34,000 Commended Students throughout the nation are being recognized for their exceptional academic promise, according to the NMSC.

“I think (the commendation) is evident of the hard work that we’ve put in over the years, and also the work of our school system,” Covington said. “I didn’t study a ton for the actual PSAT, but I paid attention in my classes and I feel like the work that I put in to my classes -- especially core classes like English and Math -- really helped when I was taking the PSAT. Those classes teach you the same skills that the PSAT tests you on, so a lot of it goes back to my teachers and the fact that we have so many good teachers at our high school.”

Fontanella, whose achievement is also being honored through the National Hispanic Recognition Program, scored in the top 2.5% among Hispanic and Latino PSAT/NMSQT test takers in the region. He said he agreed with Covington.

“I didn’t strictly study for the PSAT,” he said. “Over time, I’ve been building my skills with taking tests and that’s something we’ve been getting better with at Enterprise. It’s just kind of a talent you have to build -- getting those proper test-taking skills and learning how to deduce answers and all that. It’s like a game in a way.”

Both students are, predictably, involved in several extracurricular activities with the school. Fontanella is a member of Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA) and competes in HOSA Bowl.

“That’s been really great for me,” Fontanella said. “It’s a lot of fun. I’m also a member of Psychology Club, and I’m considering joining TSA (Technology Students of America) Club.”

Covington is also a member of Psychology Club, as well as the National Spanish Honor Society and Scholars’ Bowl.

“That’s my favorite thing I do at the high school,” said Covington. “I’ve also been involved in music, particularly singing, over the years. I like to write in my free time and I love reading books.”

“At home I’m just an average guy,” Fontanella joked. “I play video games and sleep all the time.”

For the seniors, the natural next step is college. Covington said she is “definitely going” but isn’t sure where.

“I think I want to major in English, but I’m not sure of that,” she said. “All I know is I’ve always loved learning and I want to continue learning in some way, shape or form, so I think college is definitely somewhere in my future. Perhaps even graduate school.” 

“I’m in the same boat,” Fontanella said. “I’m definitely emphasizing college, and I’m planning on majoring in engineering. Right now I’m kind of stuck between engineering and medicine, but definitely either way I go I would like to get a master’s degree.”

In a release from the NMSC, the organization called Commended Students a “valuable national resource.” 

“Recognizing their accomplishments, as well as the key role their schools play in their academic development, is vital to the advancement of educational excellence in our nation,” the release states. “We hope that this recognition will help broaden their educational opportunities and encourage them as they continue their pursuit of academic success.”

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