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September 29, 2022

AHA’s Celine Hong Is National Merit® Semifinalist; 23 More Earn Honors

Celine Hong, a senior at the Academy of the Holy Angels, has qualified as a 2023 National Merit® Scholarship Program Semifinalist based on her excellent performance on the Preliminary SAT/National Merit® Scholarship Qualifying Test.


The College Board also honored several Angels as Commended Students for their exceptional academic promise. AHA’s 13 honorees are Giselle Acosta, Sophia Carroll, Giovanna Corbisiero, Sophie Cossio, Caroline Dupas, Ava Goyal, Annabelle Hur, Anna Jang, Shivani Sahu, Emily Sapka, Isabel Stein, Faith Youn, and Cecilia Yun. This is the top number of Angels to qualify for Commended Student status in several years. According to the AHA Office of Academic & College Counseling, AHA posted a high of eight Commended Students in 2014, 2020, and 2021.


Senior Catherine Tuohy earned the distinction of becoming the first Angel to be honored by the National Indigenous Recognition Program. Sophia Chounoune (AHA ’24) was honored in the National African-American Recognition Program, and Alexandra Valdez (AHA ’24), qualified for both the National Hispanic Recognition Program and the National Black/African-American Recognition Program. AHA seniors who received NHRP honors include Natalia Antaki, Morgan Battaglia, Keira Footer, Hannah Janiec, Jaclyn Larraz, and Areliz Tamayo.


“We are incredibly proud of our students who have been honored by the National Merit® programs,” AHA Principal Jean Miller stated. “We celebrate our Commended Students and Semifinalist in addition to those students who were honored in the National African-American and Hispanic recognition programs, and our first honoree in the National Indigenous Recognition Program! We are happy to see that the consistent hard work of our students is recognized and valued.”


About Our Semifinalist

Celine Hong, a resident of Englewood Cliffs, is one of just 16,000 American high school seniors to receive the opportunity to continue in the prestigious National Merit® Scholarship competition. She will now vie for one of 7,250 scholarships.

Hong is founder and president of Lights On, the non-profit she established in 2017. To date, Hong has raised over $10,000 for underprivileged communities by organizing and hosting various benefits and walkathons.


She also tutors children and participates in environmental cleanups through Lend a Hand, and is a peer math tutor. Hong has received multiple President’s Volunteer Service Awards (Gold).


A talented flutist, Hong studies music at The Juilliard School’s Precollege Division. She teaches flute at the Korean Community Center, and has participated in the Curtis Institute of Music Summer Festival and the Tanglewood Institute Flute Workshop. She is principal flutist/woodwind section leader for the AHA Orchestra and the principal flutist for the Academy’s Select Strings Chamber Ensemble. She won the 2021 New York Flute Club Young Musicians Contest and the 2019 Elite International Music Competition. She also won first prize in flute in the Prima Volta Music Competition (2021, 2022) and the New York International Music Concours.


Hong is a member of the National Honor Society, and the national honor societies for students who excel in music, science, and math. She is secretary of the Model United Nations organization, and is a member of the Red Cross Club and Dean’s Council. She has served as event coordinator for the Asian Cultural Society, and is an award-winning public speaker and debater.


This Angel has taken Advanced Placement courses in Spanish, macroeconomics, art history, language and composition, chemistry, and calculus. She is currently enrolled in AP classes in statistics, physics, literature, and government.

Since 2014, AHA has had a total of 13 National Merit® Semifinalists, 12 of whom became Finalists. Hong is now working toward her Finalist status.


Founded by the School Sisters of Notre Dame in 1879, the Academy of the Holy Angels is the oldest private girls’ school in Bergen County. While AHA is steeped in Catholic tradition, this prestigious school serves young women from many cultural and religious backgrounds.