All About Merit Scholars Haley Garecht and Dora Tomko

The SAT is no easy task, it takes a lot of preparation, determination, and hard work to perform well. Juniors Haley Garecht and Dora Tomko understand the effort it takes to succeed on the SAT as they each met the requirements to enter the 2022 National Merit Scholarship Program. Haley and Dora are among the 50,000 highest scoring participants who will be recognized as either Semifinalist or Commended Students in the fall. Recently Advancement Intern Erin Donovan ‘20 was able to sit down with the girls to discuss advice for others preparing for the SAT, life at O’Hara, and their future plans. Here are their responses:

1. Advice for students taking the PSAT and SAT/ best way to prepare for PSAT and SAT? 

Haley:  My advice to anyone looking to do well on the PSAT and SAT is to go easy on the content review and focus on practicing HOW to take the test. Although the math and writing content is important, I felt so much better overall once I practiced questions and felt like I understood the structure of the test(s) before taking them.

Dora:  Don’t stress out about it! Study beforehand to get a good idea of the material you’ll be looking at, and use Khan Academy to figure out your strengths and weaknesses. But also remember to get a good night’s sleep beforehand, and remember it’s just a test, and you can take it again as many times as you need to.

2. What are your plans for college- what colleges are you looking at, what majors are you interested in, do you plan to do any activities/sports in college?

 Haley: The main colleges I’m interested in are University of Pennsylvania, Boston College, and William & Mary. As of right now, I’m looking into majoring in Psychology or Political Science with a pre-law focus, but that could change any time! During college I’m hoping to play club volleyball and do theater in some capacity. 

Dora: At the moment, I’m interested in Villanova, Notre Dame, William and Mary, Princeton, and a few others. I plan to major in history, and I hope to be involved in dance in college as well.

3. What activities/ sports are you involved in at O’Hara? 

Haley: This year at O’Hara, I am involved in: Volleyball, Show, DHDM, Lion Ambassadors, Students for Life Club, CSC, Choir, Lion Connection, and Golden Touch. 

Dora:  I am in show, choir, Lion Ambassadors, Lion Connection, Students for Life, CSC, and Tri-M.

4. What are your classes this year/ next year? 

Haley: This year I took Honors Latin, RCA Theology/Philosophy, Vocal, Honors Chemistry, Honors Pre-Calc, AP Lang & Comp, and AP U.S. History. Next year, I am hoping to take RCA Theology/Philosophy, AP Lit, AP Calc AB, AP Psychology, AP Environmental Science, Honors Latin, and Vocal. 

Dora: This year, I’m taking Latin, RCA Theology, Vocal, Chemistry, Pre-Calc, AP Lang, and APUSH. Next year I’m taking Latin, RCA Theology, RCA Literature, AP Psych, AP Stat, AP Environmental, and Vocal.

5. What is the best part about O’Hara? 

Haley:  I think the best part about O’Hara is the spirit of involvement among the students. Everyone is a part of something, whether it is sports, show, or other clubs, and I think you would be hard pressed to find an O’Hara student who isn’t at school 3+ days a week after school for activities. Since freshman year, the kids and teachers have encouraged me to get involved, which makes the community so vibrant and fun to be a part of. 

Dora: I think the best part about O’Hara is the Regina Chesterton program. It has been so much fun being able to access in-depth, classical texts throughout high school and has given me a much better understanding of theology, literature, and philosophy.

6. What is your favorite O’Hara memory? 

Haley:  My favorite O’Hara memory is probably doing Music Man this year. It was so much fun to be onstage again after the pandemic, and we all became very close as a cast because everyone was so happy to be together. 

Dora: My favorite O’Hara memory is this year’s show, The Music Man. It was so much fun to be back on a stage again after so long and I was so grateful to be there with all of my friends again.

We are so proud of Haley and Dora for all of their accomplishments and are happy to call them both Lions for Life!