Jackson High School graduate Elias Abboud and Green High School graduate Arman Aboutorabi were recently announced as National Merit Scholarship college sponsored award winners.

They join Green's Lauren Goldie and Courtney Davis, Lake's David Klopfer and Hoban's Carson Keenan (Uniontown) as local National Merit Scholarship recipients.

Elias Abboud

Abboud, who graduated second in his class with a 5.53 grade point average, will be attending Case Western Reserve this fall. He plans to major in economics with his end goal being a career in financial services.

"I was very pleased with myself," said Abboud, when he found out he was a National Merit winner. "I am very happy to get the honor. I worked hard and took the test seriously. I was thankful for the outcome."

Abboud described the process for National Merit, which actually started at the beginning of his junior academic year.

"The first part caught me a little by surprise," said Abboud, the son of Rita and Nathan. He also has two siblings, Clare and Mark. "When it was announced I was a semifinalist, it was not the first thing in my mind. It was in the background since we took the test a year earlier. Once you are a semifinalist, though, it is essentially a foregone conclusion you will become a finalist as long as you do the proper paperwork.

"The final part is a tad stressful (moving on from finalist to award winner). Before I was informed about the college sponsored scholarship, I was told I didn’t receive the state or corporate sponsored awards. So I was disappointed with that. Luckily, about a month and a half later, Case sent a letter and said I got the college sponsored award. It worked out for the best since the college sponsored award was the highest valued of the three. But I was definitely nervous there."

Abboud said he would encourage kids to take the test. He said the test is similar to the SAT and ACT.

"You pay a little fee and take the test," he said. "It takes a little time. But if you get the prize it is definitely worth it.

"One of the illusions of standardized testing on the ACT, SAT or PSAT is that you learn the material in high school," added Abboud, who founded the history club at Jackson, was a state champion in speech and debate, has a black belt in karate and was CEO of the Business Club. "It is really a middle school level test. To be successful, you need to do it quickly and with minimal thinking. Most standardized testing is not designed to assess classroom achievement but just critical thinking and college aptitude."

Abboud believes students should study hard, value their classroom work equally to the ACT, SAT and PSAT. Abboud thinks too many kids allow their stellar grades to get weighed down by subpar test scores.

Arman Aboutorabi

"I was very grateful to win," said Aboutorabi, the son of Jennifer and Hamid. He has a sibling, Bijam. "I tried not to expect too much. I was pleasantly and somewhat surprised at winning."

Aboutorabi, who was valedictorian, graduated with a 4.7 GPA and finished first in his class. He will be attending Miami University and plans to study political science and English literature. He plans to attend law school.

"I do not see any drawbacks to kids taking the PSAT," said Aboutorabi, whose brother was a National Merit semi finalist. "Our school did a really good job of promoting the test.

"The Green teachers, particular Mr. DeVitis prepared us for the test. In fact, one of the passages on the test, we did a lot of prep work with that question with Mr. DeVitis."

Aboutorbi said the standardized tests really do not help prep for the PSAT.

"From a comfort standpoint, just to have the standardized test, I believe it can help," said Aboutorabi, who was in theater at Green. He played the Bishop in "Shrek: The Muscial" and Admiral Boom in "Mary Poppins." "From a content perspective, that content is separate and not related to school."

Besides theatre productions, Aboutorabi was involved in Academic Challenge and Mock trial. He also was in drama club and was part of the The Diary of Anne Frank and Tony and Tina’s Wedding.