Ambrose Terneus of Bellevue is a National Merit Scholarship semifinalist for 2020.

In the 65th year of the program, approximately 16,000 high school seniors are named semifinalists. The program awards 7,600 National Merit Scholarships worth more than $31 million.

Students must take the 2018 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test and be among the top scorers in their state.

Terneus, is home schooled and enrolled at Mother of Divine Grace School, a Catholic distance education program based in California.

“I think once I hit high school, that’s where I flipped the switch and started taking school more seriously,” he said. “I started teaching myself more classes and I had a better understanding and appreciation for education as a whole.”

For three months, Terneus will study organ, piano and French in Luxembourg while also continuing his home school education.

Outside school, Terneus is involved in many activities around the community: track and field, archery, robotics, Boy Scouts, a Latin quiz bowl team, volunteered at Hillcrest’s Health Services to play piano and accordion for the residents and has volunteered with youth programs at Bellevue Public Library.

Terneus also received a Congressional Award for volunteer work, personal development, physical fitness and expedition/exploration activities.

After graduating, Terneus plans to attend Thomas Aquinas College in Santa Paula, Calif., where he plans to major in liberal arts.

Terneus said it meant a lot to him to be named a semifinalist.

“It’s an affirmation of the work I have put into it,” he said. “It’s an affirmation for that effort I’ve had to taking school seriously. This pays off, there’s something on the back end that I get recognized for.”

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