HARRISONBURG — Blue Ridge Christian School announced Friday that Joseph Lopez-Cotaina has been named a Commended Student in the National Merit Scholarship Program.

A Letter of Commendation from the school and the National Merit Scholarship Corporation, which conducts the program, was presented to Lopez-Cotaina last week by Mary Beth Anderson, the academic dean.

Joseph is the son of Jose and Chrissy Lopez-Cotaina. He has attended Blue Ridge Christian School since the second grade.

“I prepared for the tests by learning in school,” Lopez-Cotaina said. “These tests are intended to measure knowledge that students are supposed to learn in school, after all. If you don’t understand something, ask your teacher, or look for an explanation you can understand on websites like Khan Academy, Stack Exchange, or YouTube.”

Approximately 34,000 Commended Students throughout the nation are being recognized this fall for their performance on college admissions tests. Commended students placed among the top 50,000 scorers of more than 1.5 million junior level students who entered the 2020 competition for taking the Preliminary SAT, also known as the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test.

Lopez-Cotaina scored a 1480 on the October 2018 PSAT and recently scored a 1550 on the SAT and 33 on the ACT.

A score of 1550 indicates that a student answered almost every question correctly on the exam. Because a 1550 is only 50 points away from a perfect score, it demonstrates an achievement of academic excellence that places a student in the 99th percentile of test takers.

In math alone, Lopez-Cotaina scored in the top .02 percent in the country.

Lopez-Cotaina said he was pleased with his scores but plans to take both the SAT and ACT again. He plans to study cyber security or computer science at a four year university but is still figuring out what he can afford.

“It’s hard to say when I’m still applying for my first job and waiting for this year’s FAFSA to open,” Lopez-Cotaina said. “I might stay local and attend BRCC and JMU, or I might get enough in financial aid and scholarship grants to afford some place like MIT.”

Contact Megan Williams at 574-6272 or mwilliams@dnronline.com. Follow Megan on Twitter @DNR_Learn

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