Lone Peak High School Senior Michael Romney earned the distinction of being the first LPHS student to be a National Merit Scholarship Semifinalist, but he credits his teachers and the community for his success. PHOTO COURTESY MICHAEL ROMNEY

A testament to good people

Big Sky’s first National Merit Semifinalist credits teachers and community

Lone Peak High School senior Michael Romney just became the school’s first National Merit Scholarship Semifinalist, with a total of 16,000 in the nation. He is in the running for one of the 7,600 National Merit Scholarships that are worth more than $31 million. He finds out in February if he makes the finals.

“As far as I know I'm one of the only kids in Class C to get this and I think it speaks well to our school,” he said. Rather than have the story focus on him “I want this to be focused on our community and our school because they are the people that brought me there.” He described the achievement as the culmination of his Big Sky education.

A student of Big Sky School District since kindergarten, he has learned from a host of teachers who invest in the students and in the community, he said. In fact, he cannot name a single favorite educator.

“I honestly love all my teachers. They are all really awesome. I’ve had most of my teachers for all four years of high school and some for middle school, too. It’s great building those relationships – and they have watched us grow, too,” he said.

The importance of education has always been emphasized in the Romney household. With three boys: Michael, a senior; Max, a sophomore; and Miles, in the 6th grade, the boys have a slew of interests and activities. Yet, even in their younger years, when grades were not necessarily as important, Romney said his parents had expectations.

“It was definitely a thing in my house that it was important to maintain good grades or you don't get to play sports. I think that was a positive thing. I think it’s a logical thing looking back on that,” he said. “School is my primary job for the first 17 years of my life.”

Though not completely decided on a university yet, he likes Duke but is determined to not stress about the college application process.

“I’ve enjoyed the process. A lot of kids get really stressed about it, but I would say don’t get stressed about it. I think it’s kind of more of a fun thing,” he said.

As for life philosophy, he believes in casting a wide net and embracing varied interests. From soccer, basketball and skiing to the National Honor Society, Student Council, the news cast, the Lone Peak High School Acapela group and productions, his Big Sky experience has been busy.

“I have a lot of things going on, but I think that is kind of empowering for me. I try to not get too stressed about things. But even if I am stressed that makes me more effective – being under pressure,” he said.

Able to view things from the big picture, he is eyeing more than just the university itself.

Romney understands this is going to be his first extended stay away from Big Sky and he is really wanting to get a full life experience.

“It’s important, too – you are getting into the real world,” he said.

People will be important when he makes the choice for his future, just as good people have been so much a part of his Big Sky upbringing.

“I’m really thankful for everybody in the community. This is pretty much the best place to grow up and I’m definitely going to miss it when I go off to college,” he said.

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