Roseville senior named finalist for National Merit Scholarship

By: Kevin Bunch | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published March 25, 2015

 Nathan Richendollar, Roseville High School senior, is a National Merit Scholarship finalist.

Nathan Richendollar, Roseville High School senior, is a National Merit Scholarship finalist.

Photo by Kevin Bunch

ROSEVILLE — A Roseville High School senior has been declared a finalist for the National Merit Scholarship, an honor that only 0.1 percent of all high school seniors receive.

Nathan Richendollar has managed to secure the prestigious honor while finishing high school, taking advanced placement courses, participating in multiple extracurricular activities, playing music and writing.

Richendollar said the initial step for the scholarship involved sending his Preliminary SAT scores from his junior year of high school. Those scores were then used to filter out the scholarship semifinalists, which he said make up the top half-percent of all students.

“I found out I was a semifinalist just about the beginning of the (current) school year,” Richendollar said. “And I learned I was a finalist roughly three to four weeks ago.”

To get to that finalist position, he had to go through a scholarship application. He provided information on his academic record, participation in school and academic activities, honors, employment and awards received, according to a press release from Roseville Public Schools. National Merit Scholarship winners will be announced in late April and early May.

Richendollar has certainly kept himself busy. He said he has taken — or is taking — seven AP courses, which is practically all of the ones the school offers. He also was a varsity football player — “not a very good one,” he said — plays guitar, writes, and participates in multiple academic trivia competitions.

He is the high school’s all-time leading scorer in Quiz Bowl, which Richendollar said covers everything from “pop music to presidents.” He also is a state qualifier and place winner for the Ocean Bowl, an ocean-based counterpart to Quiz Bowl, and a participant in Envirothon, an environmental competition where students answer hands-on questions about stewardship and the natural world.

“I’m also a field herpetologist,” he said. “You get out into Oakland County and into Washtenaw, and we have some of the best salamander populations in metro Detroit.”

Finally, Richendollar has published a book titled “Sic Semper Republica” through WestBow Press out of Indiana. The book is about the state of American politics and his view of it related to bygone governments such as Europe’s Roman Republic, China’s Ming Dynasty and Japan’s Tokugawa Shogunate. He said that he does not quite know how he juggles all his activities.

“I was asked this question at (Eastern Michigan University) for a scholarship interview, and I said, ‘I have no idea; I just do it,’” Richendollar said. “It seems like I should cut out sleep, but I manage to get it done in 15 hours a day. I just have to plan things in advance.”

Roseville High School Principal Pete Hedemark said that as Richendollar’s father is a football coach and science teacher, Hedemark has known the younger Richendollar since he was 4 years old. He said the younger Richendollar “always had a book” in his hands and described him as “unique.”

“He is a student that loves learning. He simply loves to learn; he absorbs information and is interested in many things,” Hedemark said. “Beyond that, when he’s been involved in activities from varsity football through Quiz Bowl or Envirothon, it’s not just enough that he’s doing well for himself; he helps others and brings others up, too. I’ve seen him tutor students and tutor students for the SAT. He makes everybody a little bit better.”

Richendollar said he has received solid support from his parents and school staff. He highlighted AP history teacher Dave Clulo as someone in particular who has been a big influence.

“There’s no way I’d forget AP history,” he said. “I took it early; I came over from the middle school because I really loved U.S. history.”

He said Clulo’s class helped teach him that he can disagree with someone but still like them on a personal level. Clulo is someone Richendollar has considered a mentor for years, Richendollar added.

While he has not yet decided which school to attend, Richendollar is still pursuing scholarships and has decided that he would like to look into double majoring in political science and history, with a minor in environmental science and biology.