Two Santa Fe Christian students named a National Merit Scholarship Finalist


Competing with more than 1.6 million students, Santa Fe Christian (SFC) seniors Paolo Pasco and Deine Shin were each recently named a National Merit Scholarship Finalist.

Paolo Pasco came to SFC as a freshman, “My parents had different ideas as to what they wanted for me in a high school. My mom wanted a strong Christian education, while my dad wanted a more established school. None of the schools we considered fit both categories until my mom chanced upon SFC.”

Pasco’s favorite subject is math, “I like the logic behind each problem, and how there’s guaranteed to be a solution every time. Mr. Maxon, a math teacher at SFC, was the first SFC teacher I encountered. From the start, I could tell that he was different from the other math teachers-- most teachers taught which formulas worked, but Mr. Maxon wants his students to learn why they work, and to form problem-solving habits that go beyond rote memorization.”

Outside of class, Pasco is co-president of the Math Club, and helps with National Honor Society tutoring sessions. Just recently he joined the SFC improv team. In his spare time, he enjoys writing crossword puzzles, “I debuted in the New York Times in 2015 (on a Friday), and at the American Values Club Crossword, where I am now a regular contributor. I’ve also constructed for crossword tournaments, like Lollapuzzoola (where I won both the Rookie and Local divisions in 2016) and The Indie 500. Since last summer, I’ve been publishing puzzles on my own site, Grids These Days.”

Deine Shin came to SFC her freshman year, “It was important to my parents to have a faith-based component to a strong academic curriculum. SFC provided both.”

Deine loves English and all the teachers who have helped in encouraging her creative side. “The teachers are amazing in their subjects, but I love that they are open to talking about anything. They provide emotional support and advise too.” Speaking three languages fluently, Deine finds language fascinating. She humbly states, “I speak Korean, English and French.”

When it comes to other activities, Deine enjoys using other creative expressions. She leads worship at Korean United Methodist Church, sings in SFC’s Chamber Choral, and has played piano competitively for the past 12 years. In her spare time, she runs a homeless kids program called God’s Extended Hand.

In order to qualify, Paolo and Deine entered the 2018 National Merit Scholarship Program by taking the 2016 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT®) in their junior year. Due to the high score on the PSAT, both Pasco and Shin were selected as a semifinalist representing less than 1 percent of U.S. high school seniors.

To become a finalist, a semifinalist must have an outstanding academic record throughout high school, participate in school and community activities, demonstrate leadership abilities, be endorsed and recommended by the high school principal, and earn SAT scores that confirm the student’s earlier performance on the qualifying test.

SFC Upper School Principal Matt Hannan enthusiastically states, “I am extremely proud of both Paolo and Deine being designated as a National Merit Finalist. Their dedication to academics and pursuit of knowledge have separated them from 99.9 percent of all high school students and they are to be commended. Paolo and Deine represent all aspects of Santa Fe Christian well and I could not be more pleased to serve as their principal; I look forward to seeing the plans the Lord has for both of them in the future.”

Merit Scholar designees are selected on the basis of their skills, accomplishments, and potential for success in rigorous college studies, without regard to gender, race, ethnic origin, or religious preference. National Merit Scholarship winners of 2018 will be announced in four nationwide news releases beginning in April and concluding in July.