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Trio reach scholarship finals

June 09, 2006|By Vince Lovato

One of Glendale Unified School District's three National Merit Scholarship Finalists speaks English as a third language. One is a homecoming princess and a drama queen. The third competes on the tennis court and in academic quizzes.

Seniors Mkrtich Ohanyan of Clark Magnet High School, Polet Bagatourian of Crescenta Valley High School and Andrew Bagwell of Hoover High School all received the honor making them eligible for $1,000 scholarships.

Only about 15,000 students of the 1.3 million who apply for the scholarship program are named finalists by the nonprofit Illinois-based National Merit Scholarship Corp.

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A student's score on the Preliminary SAT determines who is eligible.

Mkrtich's mother, Rosalba Ohanyan, is from El Salvador and his father, Petros Ohanyan, is an Armenian American.

"I've grown up a little more tolerant than if I came from a single-culture home," said Mkrtich, 18, who speaks Armenian and Spanish. "The fact that they married one another showed me that race isn't really a factor in anything. It's a superficial barrier that people use to separate themselves from each other and in the end we all share the same emotions and we all share similar thoughts."

Mkrtich, who plays Armenian folk music on the clarinet, will study math at USC where he earned a partial scholarship due to his merit status.

"That's a big advantage of being a finalist," he said. "You get opportunities like that."

Polet, 18, was a homecoming princess and starred in Crescenta Valley's theater arts production of Woody Allen's "Don't Drink The Water."

"I think that's my favorite of all the things I've done," Polet said of the play. "A lot of the teachers here are just fantastic. They try really hard not to just teach the standards. They try and teach more than the textbooks. A lot of teachers help with thinking outside the box instead of just learning by rote."

Polet, who will study social sciences at UC San Diego where she earned a partial scholarship, plans on making a run as a political candidate.

Andrew, 18, who was a varsity tennis player, also competed on Hoover's winning scholastic bowl team.

"What stands out was being able to win scholastic bowl last year," said Andrew who will study engineering at USC, where his merit recognition earned him a partial scholarship. "Science and math have always been my favorite subjects," Andrew said. "I like the idea of building and constructing."

Glendale Unified School District board member Greg Krikorian said the schools are just a part of the students' recognition.

"It's quite gratifying to see the success," Krikorian said. "But we just provide the setting and team approach. They have their student-driven goals but they had support from everyone across the board: parents, teachers, counselors. I include everybody in the spectrum. It makes all the difference to have those resources."

Only 8,200 finalists receive scholarships.

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