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Stellar Student: Oak Forest teen’s feats have merit

Nicholas FrangellTinley Park High School qualified as National Merit Scholarship Semifinalist.  |  Supplied phoby Katie Udstuen

Nicholas Frangella, of Tinley Park High School, qualified as a National Merit Scholarship Semifinalist. | Supplied photo by Katie Udstuen

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Updated: March 11, 2014 6:02AM



Nick Frangella, a senior at Tinley Park High School, has a lot to be proud of.

He was named a National Merit Scholar Semifinalist, making him the only student in Bremen Community High School District 228 to earn that distinction this school year, according to school spokeswoman Katie Udstuen.

“This is a huge honor. Of the 1.5 million initial students, the pool has been narrowed to 16,000 and Nick is included in that group,” Udstuen said.

“I’m proud to be in this exclusive group,” said Frangella, 18. “It is an honor and it means I may get scholarships.”

Like many students, he is concerned about how to pay for college. Fortunately, semifinalists have an opportunity to continue in the competition for some 8,000 National Merit Scholarships worth about $35 million that will be offered in the spring, according to the National Merit Scholarship Corp.

National Merit Scholars are chosen based on test scores from the PSAT, a preliminary test to the SAT, which is the nation’s most widely used college admission exam.

Tinley Park High School invites only the students ranked in the top of their junior class to take the test. Frangella, with an excellent academic record, was one of the students chosen. He’ll learn this month whether he is named a finalist.

In the meantime, he enjoys science and is very enthusiastic about his class in Advanced Placement computer programming. He also plays the trumpet in band, performs in the jazz ensemble and plays the trumpet at his church, Trinity Lutheran Church in Tinley Park. He is co-captain of the varsity swim team and a member of the National Honor Society.

He also competes on the mathletes team as an oralist. Most tests in the mathlete competitions require students to write out their answers. Students who are oralists must present their answer to the judges verbally and show them how they did the work and explain why their answer is correct.

“I really enjoy band and I like all the friends I’ve made there,” Frangella said. “I also enjoy science like physics and chemistry. I like the practical application of math. I don’t like math so much because when it is just problems, but when you apply it to real applications like finding how chemicals work, it becomes very interesting.”

His hard work is paying off now. He already has received a scholarship offer from the University of Minnesota but he’s still debating whether to go there or enroll at Valparaiso University, where he wants to pursue an electrical engineering degree.

“I visited there over the summer,” he said. “I really liked it and it was nice. I like learning how things work ... robotics really interest me. I’d like to be able to know how to put circuits together.”

Frangella, the son of Frank and Paula Frangella, of Oak Forest, said his dad is his mentor.

“He is always pushing me to be better. He has always been there for me and he always tries to put a lot of effort into teaching me what he thinks is best,” Frangella said. “He always taught me that I need to work hard to accomplish my goals and that will eventually lead to good things like becoming a National Merit Scholarship Semifinalist.”



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