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Orchestra Students Awarded National Merit Scholarship Recognition

Studies from Northwestern University state that playing an instrument enhances one’s intelligence, which has been proven true by the talented musicians of the Arcadia High School (AHS) orchestras. The National Merit Scholarship Program is an academic competition that provides recognition and scholarships, with more than 1.5 million high school students competing each year. To qualify for the scholarship, students need a test score on the PSAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (NMSQT) to be in the top 1% of their states. Despite the competitiveness of this program, many orchestral musicians of AHS received this prestigious award.

A special recognition goes to Katrina Chu, Rachel Wang, Aurora Cong, Shawn Lau, Crystal Kim, Victor Yang, Ellice Kang, Holly Ma, and Shannon Cheng, who are the commended students of the National Merit Scholarship Program. Scoring in the top 30% of the commended students, Tin Nguyen and Nathan Vuong, have received the honorable title of Semifinalists. Moreover, many of them believed that the orchestra program played a vital role in helping them to achieve this accomplishment.

“As I have developed as a musician, I have transitioned from spending most of my practice time correcting inaccuracies and more on refining my musicality. In the process of doing so, I have found that music is the easiest pathway for me to express myself,” said Nathan Vuong. “Due to not always being the most eloquent speaker, I have found that it is quite difficult for me to express myself verbally. Thus, music has served as my greatest emotional outlet, allowing me to unreservedly release all of my built up stresses and joys that have accumulated within me after my oftentimes strenuous days at school,” he continued.

“I believe that being in orchestra motivated me to do better in my other courses as it provided a break in my day. It allowed me to rest while not losing focus of my academic goals. My musical knowledge definitely provided a source of stress relief. One of the best things that came out of the orchestra program were the friendships that I made and that in itself was motivating,” said Katrina Chu.

In support of Chu’s experience on how music helped her to perform better in school, according to ABC Science, playing an instrument has been scientifically proven to increase one’s memory capability. A study was conducted among a group of high school boys, half of which were musically trained while the other half was not. Each group was given a list of words to read and were asked to recall the words after a period of time. The results have shown that boys who are musically trained memorized significantly more words.

Being one of the largest Performing Arts programs on campus, the AHS orchestra program provides essential support to the academic career of its high-achieving musicians. Although not every student will pursue a musical career, musical knowledge will continue to benefit the various aspects of a student’s life.

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