Verona Area High School July 2020

The “social stairs” on the southern side of the new Verona Area High School. The stairs, which are both inside and outside of the building, are a place that district administration hope are heavily used by students during lunchtimes or for studying.

Three Verona Area High School seniors have been named National Merit Scholarship winners.

Students Nathan Arbogash, Surya Blasiole and Ben Wellnitz are three of 3,100 high school seniors nationwide who received college-based scholarships from the National Merit Scholarship program, a June 2 news release from the National Merit Scholarship Corporation said.

Arbogash’s National Merit Scholarship will be provided by University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he will likely study actuarial science; Blasiole will receive the scholarship through University of Georgia, where a field of study is not yet decided. Wellnitz will receive his scholarship from Case Western Reserve University and plans to study physics and math.

National Merit Scholarship winners receive a renewable scholarship of between $500 and $2,000 annually for four years of undergraduate study from their college or university. A smaller round of college-based scholarship winners will be announced in July, bringing the number of students awarded nationwide to around 4,000, the release states.

To enter the National Merit Scholarship contest, students must take a Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test during their junior year, the release said. Over 1.5 million high school juniors from 21,000 schools entered the program, and less than 1% of test takers were selected as semifinalists.

To move on to the finalist level, students had to submit a scholarship application that included information about their academic record, school- and community-based extracurriculars and leadership abilities, the release states. Students must also submit a letter of recommendation from someone at their respective high school, and write an essay.

Students who advance to being finalists will compete for three types of scholarships: $2,500 scholarships, which are awarded to 2,500 students with no other qualifications required; 1,000 corporation-sponsored scholarships awarded to students who fit the criteria; and 4,100 scholarships from colleges and universities to students who plan to attend, which both Arbogash and Blasiole received.

Email reporter Kimberly Wethal at and follow

her on Twitter @kimberly_wethal.

News Editor

Kimberly Wethal joined Unified Newspaper Group in 2018, where she serves as the news editor for four publications and primarily covers the Verona Area School District and the City of Fitchburg. She previously was an intern with UNG starting in 2013.