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SUSSEX - Hamilton High School seniors Alex Menzia and Dominic Pino have been selected as finalists in the National Merit Scholarship Competition; the students had some of the highest PSAT scores scores out of 1.5 million students nationally.

As finalists, the two are among 15,000 in the nation to receive the honor, and if selected as Merit Scholars, they will be two of 7,500 to receive scholarships for college; the scholarships will vary in value and will be announced — as well as which students will receive them —  in March.

While the seniors didn't remember their exact scores, they attribute much of their success in the competition to the high-quality education they received in the Hamilton School District.

"Alex and I are blessed to go to a school that performs very well academically compared to other public schools in the state," Pino said. "That’s certainly given us a leg up on the competition.”

Specifically, Pino wanted to thank his social studies teacher, Daniel Heckman, for being a great instructor and for engaging the class to think critically about the world around them.

"I really enjoyed the class I had with him because it involved a lot of critical thinking, which sometimes is absent from classes," Pino said. "It wasn’t just the teacher up there talking; we had a lot of discussions and talked with each other, bouncing a lot of ideas and opinions off one another. It was a global issues class, so it was fun to talk about current events and to be able to think critically about them; the instructor did a good job of creating that environment.”

The two students are active in extracurricular activities, with Menzia in tennis and National Honor Society, and Pino involved in golf and German club.

After graduation, Menzia plans to attend the University of Wisconsin-Madison to study math. Pino has his eye on three out-of-state schools that he has already been accepted to; the final choice will come down to the scholarships he receives, but he has selected economics as his area of study.

Menzia and Pino were excited to receive the recognition as their high school education draws to a close.

“I was excited by this; it’s a tremendous honor that the work I’ve put in here is being recognized," Pino said. "It humbles you to know that out of all the people that take the SAT, you get to the finalist stage.”

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