Tuschhoff named National Merit Scholar semifinalist


Photo courtesy by Wilena Tuschhoff

During the B.E.S.T. Robotics regionals at Wichita State University, senior Forrest Tuschhoff drives the teams robot. The team placed second which allowed them to travel to Denver, Colorado for Nationals.

Pencils scribbled across the paper, annoyed huffs of breath are released, papers flip as the test continues. Those are the noises that filled room 208 during last year’s PSAT test while senior Forrest Tuschhoff sat, not knowing he would end up qualifying as a National Merit semifinalist.

“I was feeling pretty confident that I was going to do well, but I wouldn’t have been upset if I didn’t make it,” Tuschhoff said. “I knew it’d be a huge scholarship opportunity, and I had a good chance of making it, so there was no reason not to [do the test]”

Tuschhoff was one of 16,000 semifinalists in the United States. If he chooses, he can fill out an application including his ACT and SAT scores for the opportunity to become one of 15,000 finalists.

“He worked so hard,” Tuschhoff’s mom Wilena Tushhoff said. “School comes first to him; he’s been that way since elementary.”

The National Merit Scholarship Corporation is used to identify and recognize academically talented U.S. citizens like Forrest. Their logo is an oil lamp -a classic symbol of knowledge and wisdom.

The 2018-2019 Robotics Team poses with their sign before their Robotics competition. Senior Forrest Tuschhoff has been part of the Robotics team since his freshman year. (Photo courtesy Wilena Tuschhoff)

“I used Kahn Academy’s specialized studying for the ACT for 30 minutes a few times a week for about a month,” Forrest said. “I’m really happy and glad I put in the practice and the effort.”

Since kindergarten, Forrest has been a part of the gifted program.

“Forrest is a neat kid,” gifted teacher Jayson Schwinn said. “He’s quiet, but he’s also fun to talk to when he’s willing to open up.”

At home as well as school, Forrest tends to have a more sophisticated personality.

“It seemed like we should’ve been opposite, he should’ve been the parent,” Wilena said. “He’s always been super mature. He’s just a very serious person, but yet he’s playful too.”

Even as a child, Forrest knew he enjoyed subjects involving letters and numbers.

“In preschool, he could break fractions down, do decimals,” Wilena said. “Ever since he was two and a half, he had a pencil and was writing numbers. I knew very early on there was something special.”

Forrest’s fascination with numbers has allowed him to calculate complex problems quicker at a much younger age.

One time we went to a McDonald’s drive thru. He knew before we got to the window what change I was going to have.

— Wilena Tuschhoff, Forrest Tuschhoff's mother

“One time we went to a McDonald’s drive-thru,” Wilena said. “He knew before we got to the window what change I was going to get. He was four or five years old.”

In second grade, Forrest’s teachers realized that he was farther ahead than other students, and therefore, he ended up skipping third grade and going straight to fourth.

“Forrest tends to approach problems a little bit differently than others,” Schwinn said. “He’s going to get the right answer, but he’s going to try some other methods to get there.”

When the PSAT results came out in December, Forrest received a score of 1470, the highest score possible being 1520.

“I’m excited for him,” Schwinn said. “He got there all on his own. He’s a bright kid, and he did it himself.”

Forrest hopes to attend Oklahoma State after graduation with the goal of becoming a surgeon. He took an anatomy and physiology class that developed his interest in the profession. 

“With Forrest, the sky’s the limit,” Schwinn said. “Whatever he wants to do, he’s going to be able to do. This is just one more thing proving that.”