National merit scholars

Three Shakopee seniors were honored as National Merit semifinalists at the March 22 school board meeting. Pictured, from left: Shakopee High School High Potential and Innovative Programs coordinator Erin Heilman, National Merit semifinalists Ian Smith, Simran Rana and Tharun Inturi, Shakopee School Board member Jeff Smith, Superintendent Mike Redmond, Shakopee School Board Chair Kristi Peterson.

Three Shakopee High School seniors have been designated as 2021 National Merit Scholarship semifinalists and were honored at the March 22 Shakopee School Board meeting.

More than 1.5 million students across the country entered the 2020 National Merit Scholarship Program by taking the 2019 preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship qualifying test, which served as an initial screening of program entrants.

The 16,000 top-scoring students were named semifinalists of the National Merit Scholarship Corporation. Shakopee students Ian Smith, Tharun Inturi and Simran Rana were three of those students selected. Each addressed the school board after they were honored March 22.

Smith, who is the son of Shakopee School Board member Jeff Smith, plans on pursuing an engineering degree and hopes to stay in the Midwest for college, said throughout his time in high school he participated in band, jazz band, percussion ensemble and the pit orchestra for school musicals. Smith said he has taken 13 Advanced Placement classes and three College in the Schools classes at Shakopee High School. Each of those classes offers college credits.

“A lot of those things have helped me in my journey towards getting into college,” Smith said.

Rana said being part of the Shakopee speech team helped her grow as a student and person throughout her time in the district.

“And it’s really helping me right now as I give this speech to you,” she joked to the board members.

Rana, who was part of Shakopee High School’s health science academy, plans on entering the field of medicine and is awaiting college decisions.

“Hopefully I get into one of the colleges out west or out east,” Rana said. “But I wouldn’t be mad about going to the U of M, either.”

Inturi also plans on entering into the field of medicine. He participated in band and speech team, and was also captain of the Shakopee tennis team and president of Health Occupation Students of America (HOSA). Inturi also served on the state board for HOSA.

Each of the students grew up in Shakopee and have gotten to know each other throughout their educational and extracurricular endeavors.

“I’ve been here a while and grown a lot here as a person… it’s kind of interesting to see how far we’ve come along the way,” Inturi said.

In the next few months, the National Merit Scholarship Corporation will notify approximately 7,600 finalists that they have been selected to receive a scholarship award, according to the program’s website.

Maddie DeBilzan graduated with a journalism degree from Bethel University. She’s interned at Salon Media and the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Outside of work, she sifts through Goodwill clothing racks, listens to Ben Rector's music and goes on long runs.