Henry Moss is the only student in Savannah who has been selected as a 2022 National Merit Scholarship Semifinalist. He scored 1590 out of 1600 on the Scholastic Achievement Test. He earned a perfect 800 on the math portion of the test and scored 790 out of 800 in English.
“I was 10 points off,” he said, smiling.
The combination of his PSAT score and academic resume resulted in Moss being selected as a National Merit Scholarship Semifinalist by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation. It’s a major achievement, the academic equivalent of being chosen All-America in a sport. The 16,000 semifinalists nationwide are the highest-scoring entrants in each state and represent less than 1 percent of each state’s high school seniors. They are the only participants who qualify to continue in the competition for National Merit Scholarships to be awarded in the spring of 2022.
“To become a National Merit Scholarship Semifinalist, Henry had to meet the high academic and testing standards as set forth by the National Merit Scholarship Program, which he did,” BC Director of Guidance and College Counseling Sheila Crossley said. “In fact, this year he was the only high school student in Savannah listed in the National Merit Scholarship Program book of semifinalists who met those standards. This is big news for him since he meets the even higher academic and testing standards to become a finalist and compete with students nationwide for a National Merit Scholarship – the first in a long time at BC.”
PRAISE FOR HIS SUPPORT TEAM
Moss is looking at colleges. More impressive, colleges are looking at him. Like 2021 Benedictine Military School Valedictorian James GaNun, Moss hopes to attend Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass. His top six college application choices are Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Georgetown, Virginia, and the University of North Carolina.
“I was an intern at Georgia Legal Services during the summers after my freshman and sophomore years,” said Moss, who is competing to become BC Class of 2022 Valedictorian. “I did a lot of clerical work because I want to be a lawyer. It was great exposure because you do a lot of research. You do look up a lot of stuff. To expose yourself to that is very cool. It can show you that, yes, this is what I want to do or maybe this isn’t for me. I really liked it.”
The enormity of being the only student in Savannah to be selected as a 2022 National Merit Scholarship Program Semifinalist is not lost on Moss. The Blessed Sacrament Catholic School graduate is quick to deflect praise to his Benedictine Military School teachers and Crossley, as well as his parents, Parks and Mary Kathryn, and his sister, Sarah, a Saint Vincent’s Academy graduate who attends the University of Georgia.
“It kind of goes to show that, yeah, we have a great football team, and we have a great basketball team and baseball team, but also our academics are nothing to scoff at,” he said of BC. “The only person from Savannah who got National Merit came from BC. Obviously, I couldn’t have done it without all of the teachers here like Mr. (Joe) Tvrdy. I could not have done it without him for the math. And Mrs. (Karen) Marshall and all the English teachers. It’s not just me getting that score. It was because of the preparation that I received because of the teachers at BC.
“Mr. Tvrdy, because he’s been teaching here so long, he knows the SAT and what (math) is on it,” Moss continued. “So, periodically, throughout the year he would take a day and just focus on what’s on the SAT. We would do actual SAT prep on certain days because anyone can improve their SAT score. He focuses on it a lot, which is very beneficial. He’s very smart.”
You don’t just show up and score like Moss scored on the SAT and chalk it up to having a lucky week. The process begins as a freshman, if not earlier.
“Mrs. (Mary Elizabeth) Zimmer my freshman year, Mrs. (Cynthia) Brinson my sophomore year, Mrs. (Karen) Marshall my junior year, I credit all of them for the way that they taught,” Moss said. “I remember freshman year we focused a lot on essays. We focused on grammar. Here’s incorrect grammar. Here’s what you need to do. Here’s where commas go. Here’s a run-on sentence. A lot of that is on the SAT. Here’s a messed up sentence. Fix it. We did a lot of that my sophomore year in Mrs. Brinson’s class. We focused on how to make sentences better, which is like a crucial part of the SAT. Main idea. Essays. Where does the topic sentence go? Where would this sentence make the most logical sense? I’m happy because they can see their investment (in me) paying off.”
A DESIRE TO WORK HARD
Crossley said Moss’ future is limitless because of his passion for learning.
“Henry is a truly gifted student but it is his work ethic that completes him,” she said. “His curiosity for how things work and eagerness to figure out the world around him seems to be innately carved into his natural wiring and has been an integral part of his inner core since I’ve known him – all the way back to elementary school. He is always looking for bigger and better ways to challenge his intellect and grow in his understanding of the world around him, including taking a pre-college summer course at Harvard University, as well as taking an online dual-enrollment computer science course at the Georgia Institute of Technology.”
Moss took the SAT twice, a decision he recommends to other students.
“I took it during a school day when we did it (at BC) last spring,” he said. “We took it on a Wednesday and that same (week) Saturday, I took it again. I was already scheduled to take it because you have to sign up way in advance. I actually got a 1510 when we took (the SAT at BC) and then I got a 1590 when I took it less than a week later. Everyone had told me that the second time you take it is your biggest improvement, just by knowing how it’s structured and how to pace yourself. Mrs. Crossley, my parents, my sister – she took the ACT multiple times but every time she took it she went up. Obviously, studying (is important) but just taking it more than once helps just by knowing how to do it and not being surprised by anything. It was the same thing with the SAT. And any standardized test, really.”
Moss has invested a tremendous amount of time in the Guidance and College Counseling Office during his four years at BC.
“Especially this year,” he said. “I’ve gone in there a lot to ask Mrs. Crossley questions and she’ll help me, and tell me what to fill out, what not to, when to submit (paperwork). She helps a lot of us. A lot of times when we go in there it’s just to make sure that we’re on track, to kind of tell her where we are (in the college application process) and for her to tell us where we should be. Not necessarily a sit-down (meeting). You can. It’s very helpful.”
Like his senior classmates, Moss is heavy into the middle stage of the college application process right now. He hopes to receive decisions from most of his college applications around the time he turns 18 on Dec. 5.
“I’ve completed my application to Georgia,” he said. “And I’m in the process, I’ve written a lot of essays, I just have to put them into the actual application for most of the schools. For most of the schools I’ve done the essays. There are just a couple of schools that I haven’t done yet. I do that on the weekends because it takes a while. You have to sit down for about an hour, even if you already have everything, to make sure everything is in order.”
Time management is critical for Moss, who also competes on BC’s cross country and Model United Nations teams. His other activities, to name a few, include being BC’s National Honor Society President, serving as a LTC S-3 in JROTC, and student council.
“With BC, the academics are very challenging but JROTC, theology, academics, they all teach you to be a good person, and time management,” he said. “There are so many lessons that we learn through BC that have nothing to do with just getting an answer right on a test or knowing the square root of 64. It’s how, like in theology, we learn about ethics. Should you do that as a person? And school spirit, too. That’s a big thing here and I fully embrace that.”
SURPRISE OF A LIFETIME
Moss learned of his SAT score during a theology class.
“I was extremely excited,” he said. “I remember I was sitting in theology class. (The scores) come out at random times throughout the day so I was waiting for it. I hate not knowing. They email you that your scores are ready. I remember just looking at it. I didn’t believe it. I was like, ‘There’s no way. That’s got to be wrong.’”
When theology class ended, Moss’ next stop was a mad dash to Mrs. Crossley’s office, right?
“Actually, I didn’t say anything to anyone,” he said, laughing. “I waited until I got home.”
Moss told his parents about his 1590 but he said he felt superstitious, like if he told anyone else that his score might magically disappear.
“It wasn’t like it wasn’t real but I just didn’t want to tell anyone because it was such a high score so I waited until the next day and I talked to (Mrs. Crossley) about it,” he said. “She was very excited for me. She was very congratulatory.”
The National Merit Scholarship Program informed Crossley of their selection of Moss as a semifinalist two weeks ago.
Crossley, who began working at BC in 2014, is known for the joy that she gets from surprising Cadets with outstanding news of their academic achievements.
“They called me on the intercom and said, ‘Henry Moss, please report to Guidance,’” he said. “I wasn’t sure if I had done something wrong. I had no idea. So I walked over there and when I walked in, she gave me this letter. I was so confused. I said, ‘What is this?’ And she was like, ‘I couldn’t wait to tell you. It’s National Merit! You got it!’ It was in this official envelope, and it was very, very nice. It really is an honor. It’s incredible. And it goes to show the teachers here, it’s not just me. It was a combination of the teachers and Mrs. Crossley, my parents.”
Moss, who will turn 18 on Dec. 5, said attending BC is one of the greatest decisions of his life.
“It’s the people in our grade,” he said. “A lot of these guys, I’ve gone to school with since kindergarten. A lot of us went to Blessed Sacrament, all the way through. And even the ones that I had never heard of before freshman year, I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I couldn’t imagine going anywhere else.”