The New Albany-Plain Local school board honored the district's National Merit Scholarship semifinalist and commended scholars at its Jan. 24 meeting.

The New Albany-Plain Local school board honored the district's National Merit Scholarship semifinalist and commended scholars at its Jan. 24 meeting.

New Albany High School senior Rafael Thomas was the district's sole semifinalist, while Lindy Newman, Nathan Peck and Ellen Waddell were named commended scholars based on their scores on the Preliminary SAT exam.

About 16,000 students are named semifinalists and about 15,000 of these students move on to become finalists eligible for National Merit Scholarships, as well as corporate- and college-sponsored scholarships. About 34,000 students who take the PSAT are named commended scholars by the National Merit Scholarship Corp.

Superintendent April Domine invited each of the students to the podium to say a few words about themselves.

Thomas said his favorite subject is math.

"As my senior project I decided to investigate number theory. It's a private passion of mine," Thomas said.

Thomas' guidance counselor described him as "a bright and curious learner," Domine said.

Newman said she wants to go to Capital University and study psychology. She also was involved with other activities at New Albany High School.

"I'm the president of the ballroom dance club that I started," she said.

Peck said he hopes to attend either Muskingum College or Hanover College.

"One of my highlights this year is with AP environmental science class," Peck said. "I developed a passion for it over the past two years."

Waddell said she wants to attend either Northwestern University or Brown University to study English.

"My highlight of being here has been my sophomore honors Western humanities class," she said. "It really did change my life. It changed my whole outlook on living. This year, I'm also a tutor for other sophomores taking honors Western."

In other business at the Jan. 24 meeting, the board approved new high school courses. Courses to be offered in 2011-12 include physical science, physics, business principles and marketing, AP Calculus BC and digital imaging and media.

Board members applauded the addition of physical science and physics.

"There is an opportunity here to really strengthen our science curriculum, not only in high school," said Mike Klein. "We need to continue to make that effort. I think there's a segment of the population that are looking for that additional rigor."

In addition, the board voted to purchase two 77-passenger school buses at a cost of $81,105 per bus. The cost will be paid after July 1 out of the permanent-improvement fund.