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Bruin snags National Merit Award

Riley Slater, a senior, was awarded a National Merit Award. Photo by Sonora Slater

A good pun is its own reWORD — just like the reward senior Riley Slater recently received commending him for his score on the PSAT.

Slater, a senior at Bear River, received a National Merit Award for being in the top 50,000 students (out of 1.5 million) across the nation who took the PSAT last year. According to Slater, it is a high honor, and most colleges want a certain amount of National Merit Students at their school each year.

“It gives you a huge advantage for getting into any college,” Slater said.

“It’s really gonna help him go … where he wants to go,” agreed Grace McDaniel, a sophomore.

So, what college is he hoping to get into? Slater is keeping his plans for the future, while challenging, simple.

“Go to Stanford!” he said.

His friends know that this is his goal.

“Absolutely, Riley is looking to go to Stanford for his college,” Jakob Berger, a senior, said. “Him getting that National Award is definitely going to do wonders for him.”

Slater has earned this award, evidenced by the fact that he has taken advanced classes for a while.

“I took English 3H, this is last year, AP Calculus, AP Biology, Spanish 2, AP Art, and AP US History,” he said. “And this year I’ve got English 4 AP, AP Gov, also AP Art again, AP Statistics online, Spanish 3, and AP Chem.”

Some Bear River Staff Members detailed how exactly taking advanced classes helps you prepare for the PSAT and SAT.

In English 3H, which Riley was enrolled in last year, students do a lot of close reading, textual analysis, and critical thinking as it applies to literature and non-fiction texts,” said English Teacher Toby Barmeyer. “Being able to examine a text in multiple ways with different lenses will help prepare students for the PSAT and SAT as these texts require a lot of reading and analysis of a variety of passages.”

I do write challenging tests — at least that is what I hear from my students,” said Science Teacher Jennifer Weir on how she thinks her AP Biology class last year helped Slater prepare. “Many of my questions require careful reading and differentiation of answer choices. I would like to think that this helps students in testing situations.”

While Bear River Principal, Dr. Amy Besler, agreed that high level science, math, and english classes can be extremely useful on a quest for academic excellence, she also wanted to bring attention to the other opportunities Bear River provides.

“Any of our Honors, Accelerated, or Advanced Placement courses are extremely beneficial for students who are pursuing academic challenges,” Dr. Besler said. “ … Students are able to participate in many enriching activities while still engaging in challenging coursework, which makes them more well-rounded students who possess confidence and determination.”

Slater has taken advantage of these opportunities by joining the cross country, soccer, and track teams. Berger is his teammate for the current cross country season, and he said that he wanted to emphasize that Riley hasn’t gotten this far by pure natural talent.

“You know, Riley may be very intelligently gifted, but that’s probably only coupled with the fact that he actually wants to get into a good position in his future life, so he works hard at it,” Berger said. “He probably wouldn’t get where he is today without doing that.”

Sophomore Sean Cullers explained his take on Slater’s work ethic.

“I would say that if he doesn’t want to do it he’s not going to do it, and if he wants to do it, he’s definitely going to do it,” he said. “Riley has always been a really smart kid, I could tell that from the second I met him. Just the way that he approaches people, and the way he looks at things is a lot different, from say how normal people would.”

Slater might be well known for his intellect, but according to some more of his cross country teammates, he’s even more well known for his sense of humor.

“He’s very very goofy, very sarcastic, he loves making puns about everything,” said Grace Billingsley, a sophomore. “… I mean, it definitely takes a quick wit, a sharp wit to be able to make that many puns, and to be able to come up with stuff, and to be constantly bantering back and forth with all the kids on our team. He has a large amount of puns in his vocabulary.”  

Mrs. Barmeyer also commented on Slater’s unique personality.

“He always wears green, and I’ve heard that geniuses only wear green,” Mrs. Barmeyer said.

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Bruin snags National Merit Award