The Novi Wildcats athletics logo -- a black powercat in front of a green letter N.
George Sipple

NOVI, Mich. -- Thirty-nine seniors from Novi High School were named National Merit Scholarship Semifinalists by the National Merit Scholarship Corp.

These academically talented high school seniors have an opportunity to continue in the competition for some 7,600 National Merit Scholarships worth more than $30 million that will be offered next spring. 

"I am ecstatic to learn that Novi High School has 39 National Merit Semifinalists,” said Novi High School Principal Nicole Carter. “This is a testament to the tenacious work ethic and determination or our incredible students, our innovative and engaging teaching staff, our supportive Board of Education and our engaged parents and guardians.

“As a principal, I beam with pride as we make this announcement during our ‘Welcome Back To School Week 2020.’ ”

Novi High School's National Merit Semifinalists are listed below, in alphabetical order: 

  • Ashwin Balaji
  • Ashwin Balaji
  • Seoyun Chang
  • Lisa Dai
  • Ashwat Dhamotharan
  • Katherine Dong
  • Joseph Dougherty
  • Elena Elkin
  • Annick Gardon
  • Pallavi Ghosh
  • Jacob Huang
  • Aditya Iyer
  • Saipranav Janyavula
  • Waris Khan
  • Meghana Lanka
  • Justin Levine
  • Eric Li
  • Sunidhi Majalikar
  • Uzair Mohammed
  • Varad Mulay
  • Mahek Nasser
  • Varun Nimmagadda
  • Vasudha Nimmagadda
  • Jenya Patel
  • Rohan Patel
  • Sanjit Pingili
  • Adina Qu
  • Abhinav Reddy
  • Alexander Roznowski
  • Sian Tian
  • Ritika Tiwary
  • Shrinivas Venkatesan
  • Adithi Vijayaraja
  • Omkar Vodela
  • Alexander Wan
  • Irene Wang
  • Sarah Yee
  • Brandon Zhang
  • Chris Zhang
  • Nationa Merit Semifinalists
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Novi Unified players on the court with a referee during the KLAA Unified Tournament at Novi High.
George Sipple

Novi High one of 155 schools recognized nationally for inclusion

Novi High School was recognized as a National Banner Unified Champion School® today by Special Olympics North America.

Special Olympics North America made the announcement via newsletter this morning. Novi High was one of 155 schools nationally to be recognized and one of five in Michigan.

A Special Olympics Unified Champion School has an inclusive school climate and exudes a sense of collaboration, engagement and respect for all members of the student body and staff. A Unified Champion School receiving national banner recognition is one that has demonstrated commitment to inclusion by meeting 10 national standards of excellence. These standards were developed by a national panel of leaders from Special Olympics and the education community.

The primary activities within these standards include: Special Olympics Unified Sports® (where students with and without disabilities train and compete as teammates), Inclusive Youth Leadership and Whole-School Engagement. Banner Unified Champion Schools should also be able to demonstrate they are self-sustainable or have a plan in place to sustain these activities into the future.

Dan Ekonen, senior director of program leadership for Special Olympics Michigan, said Novi High was an “easy choice” for being named a National Banner UCS.

“When you see how their students interact and embraced UCS as what they do at Novi, it’s done at a very, very high level,” Ekonen said. “It has infused inclusion throughout their building. They are an easy choice to be recognized at a national level.

“I think it starts in the school. You see it change the school culture. When you bring 10-12 other schools into the building and community members love the program…. When I was at the KLAA tournament, I talked to a grandmother of a general education student. She was there to support them and loved to support them. It overflows into the community.”

Two years ago, Novi High, in partnership with the Michigan High School Athletic Association and Special Olympics Michigan, became the first school in the state of Michigan to host a unified basketball tournament.

Part of the National Banner UCS process includes hosting a high level recognition ceremony at the school. Special Olympics Michigan will work to identify options for this school year.  There are currently restrictions against holding assemblies, so the ceremony may be delayed until the spring or next year.






  • athletics
  • inclusion
  • National Banner
  • Novi High School
  • Special Olympics
  • unified sports
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Getting the band back together
George Sipple

Band camp changes, but marches on

Senior drum major Kate Lee and Director of Bands Matt Diroff were interviewed at band camp by WXYZ on Thursday.

Lee said it feels good to be back in band again and hopes their music will lift others spirits too: “I think other people hearing that would give them some positive energy and give them a little bit of joy in the music and the performance."

Band members are wearing masks, maintaining social distance guidelines and covering instruments. 

Although competitions were canceled for the upcoming school year, Diroff was determined to find a way to keep the marching band playing after discussions with parents and students. 

“If you don’t do something for a year you lose all those skills those kids are learning for down the road as well," Diroff said. "It can be a two- or three-year impact when you lose that one year of experience."


  • band camp
  • drum major
  • Matt Diroff
  • Novi High School
  • Novi Marching band
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