Toma Prichard is a National Merit Scholarship semi-finalist.\f0\fs24 \cf0 photo provided
Toma Prichard is a National Merit Scholarship semi-finalist.\f0\fs24 \cf0 photo provided
Sisters High School (SHS) senior Toma Prichard has been named a National Merit Semi-Finalist by the National Merit Scholarship Program (NMSC), in conjunction with the College Board.

Prichard is among approximately 160 Oregon students to earn this distinction based on his Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test (PSAT) scores from last year.

Prichard’s scores on the PSAT rank him within the top 1 percent of over 1.5 million juniors who took the PSAT in 2018. His score on the SAT will help to determine whether he is named a National Merit Scholar, which beyond being a great honor, may also earn him academic scholarships from colleges and universities.

When asked what the award meant to him, Prichard humbly responded, “It’s a nice honor.”

Though not certain of where he will go to college or what he will study, Prichard’s interests include mathematics and statistics as well as languages. He is fluent in Japanese and English, and has studied Spanish. He is working on learning Korean on his own time.

Prichard moved to Sisters from Japan mid-way through his sophomore year of high school to live with his grandparents Diana and Jim Prichard in order to have an American educational experience. His parents, Caleb and Asami, live and work in Okayama, Japan. Caleb Prichard is a member of the first graduating class from the new Sisters High School in 1993.

According to his grandmother Diana, a retired SHS math teacher, Toma has been remarkable in adjusting to not just a different culture, but an entirely different school system and living environment.

“He’s a city boy now living out at our home in the forest,” she said. “He’s proven to be very adaptable, which will serve him well in his future.”

Toma is undecided about his next steps after graduation since he has the option of staying in the U.S. or returning to Japan. He is taking some courses at Central Oregon Community College, including Shakespeare and Cultural Communications, through the Expanded Options program.

NMSC, a not-for-profit organization that operates without government assistance, was established in 1955 specifically to conduct the annual National Merit Scholarship Program. Scholarships are underwritten by NMSC with its own funds and by approximately 400 business organizations and higher-education institutions that share NMSC’s goals of honoring the nation’s scholastic champions and encouraging the pursuit of academic excellence.