Archive for Wednesday, September 27, 2006

National Merit commends THS senior for high standing

September 27, 2006

Tonganoxie has its share of scholars.

And senior Mike Fonkert is one of them.

Fonkert has been named a commended student by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation.

Commended students don't continue in the competition for Merit Scholarships. But this ranking is an honor, as it means Fonkert, as well as about 34,000 other commended students in the nation, are among the top five percent of more than 1.4 million students who entered the 2007 competition.

Last year and this year, two THS seniors -- Micah Titterington, in 2006, and Justin Smith, earlier this month, were named National Merit semifinalists, designations that put them in competition for further scholarships.

"My scores weren't high to go on into the semifinalists, not like Justin," Mike said, smiling humbly.

But he admitted it's not bad to rank in the 96th percentile nationwide.

And he said the Tonganoxie school district has been a good place for him to excel.

"I think the best part of Tonganoxie is the way that they encourage you to do well and they make the people who are academically successful feel good," said the 17-year-old Mike. "It's not a bad thing to be smart, it's a good thing."

For instance, Mike said, in junior high he earned privileges by doing well in his classes. Simple things like getting to stand at the front of the lunch line, as well as more involved projects, like participating in the TJHS "Night of the Stars Banquet." And in high school, he said, there's the annual academic excellence banquet.

"So really, throughout junior high and high school they just encourage people to do their best in school," Mike said.

Mike, the son of Dave and Noreen Fonkert, said he tends to be self-motivated.

"But my parents have been very influential in that," Mike said. "They encourage me as well."

When he does well, Mike's the type student who tries to do even better. For instance, he netted a cumulative score of 33 on his ACT test. The top score possible is 36.

"I think I'm going to take it (the ACT test) in December one last time to see if I can improve at all," Mike said.

Mike doesn't yet know where he will attend college, but said he'll likely consider a major in business or political science.

Mike's other interests include debate, which he's participated in for four years. He's active in Future Business Leaders of America and is THS student council's vice president.

And this summer, Mike qualified for another honor, that of participating in the Robert Dole Institute of Politics Youth Civic Leadership Institute at Kansas University. He stayed in a dorm with 60 other Kansas high school students for three days and, during classes, learned about the importance of civic engagement.

Though he came away with numerous experiences, including having participated in a telephone conference with Sen. Dole, Mike easily summed up what the leadership institute meant to him.

"To get the full experience of life, you have to be involved with the people in the world around you," Mike said.

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