- Cullman, Alabama

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April 1, 2010

Star Student

National Merit Finalist has bright future

Cullman High School senior Daphne Krone is a National Merit Finalist but almost didn’t take the test to get her there.

“I was sitting in history, and my teacher asked me if I was taking the PSAT the next day,” Daphne said. “I’m not very organized. I didn’t know anything about it.”

So Daphne’s mother, Carolyn, signed her up for the SAT, which she was able to submit for consideration to the National Merit Scholarship Program.

Each year, the National Merit Scholarship Corporation evaluates thousands of high school seniors for some 8,200 scholarships worth more than $36 million. This year, the organization selected approximately 16,000 students for semifinalist status, 90 percent of whom moved on to finalist standing. About half of the finalists will move on to become National Merit Scholars. Students qualify for the program by taking the Preliminary SAT during their junior year.

When Daphne made it to the semifinalist level, she had to submit an application and essay outlining her extra-curricular activities. “I had to tell them why I’m such an awesome person,” she said.

Daphne spends most of her free time with the Cullman High School band where she plays alto saxophone. “I wish I could play other instruments,” she said. “I wanted to play the flute. But there was something about how my lips fit on the instruments. I couldn’t blow.”

She likes art, used to play basketball and writes as a hobby.

“I write horror, humor, drama,” she said. “I want to become a writer, but I don’t have enough discipline to write on a deadline. So it would have to be a hobby that I happen to get published. I don’t think I could make a living at it.”

To make a living, Daphne wants to become a psychiatrist. She plans to attend Auburn University in the fall.

“I have ADHD,” she said. “I want to make money, too. Those seem like they’ll work well together.”

Originally from Iowa, Daphne arrived in Cullman when she was 8 years old after living briefly in Winfield.

“I don’t really know how we ended up here,” Daphne said. “I know they needed doctors in this area. There were good schools here. This was a good place to be.”

Daphne’s father, Rhett, is a physician.

Daphne is one of six children in a blended family. Her four older siblings are in their 20s and no longer living at home. Although just she and her younger brother, Nick, are living at home, things aren’t any quieter.

“There’s always someone visiting,” she said. “They usually bring their pets or husbands or boyfriends. My brother Sam was in Nepal and got home a few weeks ago. He stayed with us after he got home. He just left.”

For now, Daphne is finishing her senior year and waiting to hear about her National Merit status. National Merit Scholarship winners will be announced in four nationwide news releases beginning in April and concluding in July.

West Point High School also had a National Merit Semifinalist in senior Jonathon Whitesell.

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