Schmidt a stellar student

Published 1:05 pm Friday, September 30, 2011

Catherine Schmidt, a PHS senior, a National Merit semifinalist and an avid reader, sits among her favorite books. (Contributed)

By CONNIE NOLEN / Community Columnist

Directed to find a favorite poem, my students leap for computers and books.

“Are you the poet that penned your favorite poem?” I asked Catherine Schmidt, as she wrote feverishly at her desk.

“Oh no,” Schmidt responded. “My favorite poem is the one that begins the Harry Potter series.”

Schmidt handed in a page-long poem-reproduced completely from memory.

She wrote every word and every punctuation mark of the poem correctly. Schmidt’s uncanny memory and her absolute eagle-eye for detail make her an invaluable asset to the PHS Literary Magazine Staff.

When I first met Schmidt, her older brother was in my class and Schmidt was in my son’s first-grade class. She is now a PHS senior-and a very intelligent young woman.

On Sept. 15, Schmidt discovered that, as a result of her PSAT test score from October of her junior year, she is a National Merit semifinalist.

Having known Schmidt’s very intelligent family so long, I was not surprised.

“Learning has always been very important to my family,” Schmidt said. “I must give at least some credit for my academic success to genetics.”

In addition to being a tremendous honor for Schmidt, recognition as a National Merit semifinalist also carries financial rewards.

“My first choice, The University of Alabama, offers a full-tuition scholarship to Semifinalists,” she said.

How important is it to advance to finalist or National Merit scholar? “Alabama awards scholarships to finalists which cover tuition, room, board, $1,000 per year, a one-time allowance of $2,000 for summer research or international study and an Apple iPad.”

A talented photographer, designer and writer, Schmidt is serving her third year on Literary Magazine staff.

Schmidt emails me links to funny videos pertaining to our curriculum, and her intellectual curiosity adds to the fun factor in room 214.

Asked for testing tips, Schmidt said, “The College Board will send an SAT practice question by email daily. I saved these and looked over them the morning of the test. I’ve also had wonderful, passionate teachers who challenge me every day to learn more and do better.”

Certainly, the greatest of these passionate teachers include Schmidt’s parents, Valley Elementary School teacher, Laura Schmidt, and the late Jack Schmidt.

Current juniors should bring $14 to school immediately to sign up for the PSAT which will be given at PHS on Wednesday, Oct. 12.

Connie Nolen can be reached by email at