CULVER CITY — Culver City High School’s Simon Johnson and Rebecca Mirvish have been listed among the country’s 16,000 National Merit Scholarship semifinalists for the 2016-17 school year.
They both credit the one-of-a-kind education they have received in the arts for helping them achieve what less than one percent of high school seniors have.
“Culver City High School has a great arts program, which is extremely special,” said Mirvish, who has been a part of the school’s Academy of Visual and Performing Arts since her freshman year. “It is productive, allows me to be with friends and have opportunities for real-life hands-on experience. This is a great outlet for students like myself who are not good at sports.”
Heavily involved in theater as a tech major, Mirvish focuses on doing technical theater rather than acting and performing. She is currently serving as stage manager for the play “Almost, Maine” and serves as secretary of Drama Council.
Mirvish plans to go to college as a math major and has been involved in a wide array of activities at Culver City High , including student body ambassador of the arts, the founder of the Friends for Now Club and a member of both Mock Trial and the Student on Unbiased Politics (SOUP) Club. Off campus, Mirvish is involved with Temple Akiba’s youth group.
Like Mirvish, Johnson has been involved in the Academy of Visual and Performing Arts since he arrived at Culver Cith High, both performing and working on the technical side of productions, where he has served on the lighting crew and master electrician.
He has earned a number of awards from California Educators of the Theater Arts and currently serves as the company manager, making sure everything runs smoothly in the theater company and doing all the behind-the-scenes work that makes a theater company run smoothly. The former district spelling bee champion has also spent four years as part of the school’s Improv team and serves as this year’s co-captain.
“Culver City High has been incredibly helpful both in academics and having great teachers,” Johnson said. “The arts program is huge. These programs have been really transformative for me and my identity. Doing Improv since middle school transformed me from being a shy introvert to a confident extrovert — the person who I am today.”
Johnson also is involved in Model Legislature and Court, an extension of Youth and Government at the Culver Palms Family YMCA, and is an academic mentor this year. He hopes to pursue a college career as a mechanical engineering and/or computer science major and has taken and scored fives on numerous Advanced Placement classes.
“Our school has provided a lot of advantages that I wouldn’t have otherwise,” Johnson said. “The quality of education and life at Culver City High is greater than anything you can pay for at a private school.”
Mirvish and Johnson hope to be among the 15,000 students to advance to the finalist level in February. About half of those students will earn National Merit Scholarships worth about $33 million next spring.