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St. Joseph Catholic High School students flexing academic excellence

By Deborah Wilber - | Sep 28, 2022
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A sign outside St. Joseph Catholic High School is shown Friday, March 11, 2022.
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The Ruiz family, from left, Fernando Sr., Fernando Jr., Ezekiel, Mayra and Josiah Blue, are pictured in this undated photo.
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Mercedes Randhahn, a student at St. Joseph Catholic High School, is a two-time winner at the University of Utah Science and Engineering Fair. Here, she poses for a picture in the school's laboratory on March 28, 2022, 17 days after winning first place in her category at USEF, advancing her to the International Science and Engineering Fair.

OGDEN — Students attending St. Joseph Catholic High School are turning heads with their academic achievements.

Junior Mercedes Randhahn has made headlines before for her smarts and studiousness, but this time around St. Joseph senior Fernando Ruiz will share in the spotlight with his AP College Board National Hispanic Recognition Award.

With a 3.9 GPA and high scores on multiple Advanced Placement exams, Ruiz applied for the award designated for ethnic minorities and got it.

Ruiz said he feels accomplished and confident having received an award roughly 450,000 students applied for and fewer than 1,000 were awarded.

Kari Lane, St. Joseph’s enrollment and marketing manager, said Ruiz’s award will open up several more scholarship opportunities for the senior who is determined to land his “dream job” in mechanical engineering.

Ruiz, a multistate transplant to Utah as the result of his father’s military career, said while he has been focusing on the University of Utah, he is open to any school that will provide him an opportunity to pursue his passion.

Both Ruiz and Randhahn say St. Joseph is an amazing school with wonderful teachers. “They have definitely been a huge help to me,” Ruiz said.

Randhahn said she has pressure in nearly every aspect of her life. Lane said Randhahn’s drive to succeed is remarkable, referencing her ability to cope with a hectic schedule as a Weber State University student while also still in her third year of high school.

Randhahn will be the first student at St. Joseph to graduate with an associates degree. She said her studies at WSU have been interesting in challenging her aptitude as a student.

Principal Clay Jones said he could not be more proud of Randhahn, who in addition to all her successes at Saint Joseph and Weber State has been named a National Merit Scholarship Program semifinalist as well as receiving a perfect score on her AP Research exam, an honor exclusive to only 306 students worldwide.

According to Randhahn, her core curriculum at St. Joseph prepared her for the AP Research exam and there was no need for her to study for it exclusively.

While proud of her accomplishment in acing her exam, Randhahn’s work is not yet complete as she has additional essays to write for her National Merit finalist application coming due next week.

If Randhahn advances and is later chosen from approximately 7,250 finalists to be awarded a National Merit scholarship, she said she will be using the money for school, though she is not ready to divulge where she plans on attending.

St. Joseph has never had a National Merit Scholarship Program finalist, but the school has had several semifinalists over the years, according to Jones.

“It was a very rewarding accomplishment,” Randhahn said of being named a semifinalist.

Randhahn and Ruiz said they have accomplished much while attending St. Joseph, and according to Lane, they are not the only ones thriving at the Catholic school.

Composite ACT scores of Saint Joseph students revealed the institution is 5 points higher than the national and state averages.

Ruiz has much gratitude for his family, friends and teachers for helping him succeed in his academic career. While becoming the first in his family to attend college was his biggest motivation to succeed in high school, he said he could not deal with the stress and overwhelming assignments without the support of an endless list of people.

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