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National Merit Scholarship Program semifinalists Margaret
Colton,  left, and Heather Culbertson are seniors at 
Homewood-Flossmoor High School. 

(Photo by Marilyn Thomas/HF Chronicle)

Homewood-Flossmoor High School seniors Margaret Colton and Heather Culbertson have been named semifinalists in the National Merit Scholarship Program. They are in the running for a share of the $32 million in scholarship money National Merit Scholarship Corporation will award in spring 2016.

When the required PSAT/NMSQT test was administered in fall 2014, Colton and Culbertson said they really didn’t give much thought to how it could benefit them in the long run. In fact, Culbertson said she had to go online to learn what it entailed.

The two outstanding students are part of H-F’s International Baccalaureate (IB) Program, placing them among the top students in the 2016 class. 

“(IB) is hard, but very rewarding and fun when you take the time to read all the material and ask questions,” Culbertson said. 

“I enjoy learning and research. For me, IB is a good experience,” Colton added.

Colton, the daughter of Anne and Bob Colton of Homewood, has her sights set on medical research. She will major in biology/microbiology in college. Culbertson, the daughter of Don and Katherine Culbertson of Homewood, isn’t certain about a career path but plans to major in biochemistry with a minor in piano or music.

Colton is a member of the H-F Band. She’s played the euphonium since 5th-grade at Millennium School. She went to China with the H-F Band in 2014. 

She enjoys writing and has had poems and short stories published in “Etta,” the school’s creative magazine. She is appearing in H-F’s production of “James & the Giant Peach” Sept. 25 and 26. 

She also is a founding member of TALK, the Theater Arts Leadership Kouncil, an group giving teens a chance to express themselves through poetry, short stories, dramatic readings and rap. 

Culbertson is a soprano with the H-F Choir. She will be performing in Europe in 2016 when the choir goes to Budapest, Vienna and Prague. 

An accomplished pianist, Culbertson worked with students in 2015 on the H-F entry for Contest Play competition performing 10 of the Beethoven pieces in the work “33 Variations.” For the competition, H-F students had to distill the play down to 40 minutes, and Culbertson worked on selecting which of the 33 pieces should be in the students’ production. 

This semester she’s performing on a fellow student’s music video. 

Colton and Culbertson also are working in the community as part of the Creativity, Action & Service (CAS) requirement of the IB program. 

Culbertson is organizing a knitting project collecting squares that will be stitched into blankets for South African AIDS orphans. She surpassed her goal of 100 squares and has already collected 250 squares.

Colton is teaming with a fellow IB student on her CAS project. They are preparing 35 sack lunches once a month for a homeless shelter in Harvey.

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