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PA Cyber Student Overcomes Asperger's, Earns National Merit Scholarship

MECHANICSBURG, Pa., June 27, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In ninth grade, Colin Knott became so frustrated with school that he decided to drop out.

Today this young man with Asperger's syndrome is a National Merit Scholar, his high test scores ranking him among the academic elite of this year's high school graduates.

"He found out at what age he could legally leave school, and he was counting the days," said his mother, Marilyn Knott. "I wondered if our oldest son, as bright as he is, would ever graduate from high school. I knew we had to do something."

That "something" turned out to be the Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School. Halfway through ninth grade, Colin enrolled in PA Cyber, where the ability to work at his own pace eased his frustrations and finally allowed him to express - in the words of one of his new teachers - his "great joy in learning."

Colin put it this way: "If I hadn't found out about PA Cyber, I'd be lucky to be flipping burgers now."

His achievement in winning a National Merit Scholarship was recognized on Saturday, June 22, during Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School eastern commencement exercises. He walked across the stage of The Forum at the State Capitol in Harrisburg and was handed his high school diploma by CEO Dr. Michael J. Conti, joining 1,500 graduates in the PA Cyber Class of 2013.

A Messiah College National Merit Scholar

Colin Knott has been awarded a $2,000 Messiah College National Merit Scholarship, renewable annually during his undergraduate career. Messiah College is a Christian college of the liberal and applied arts and sciences, located a mere 10 minutes from his home in Mechanicsburg, Pa.

Messiah College also awarded Colin a President's Scholarship that will pay 60 percent of his tuition and fees, making a college degree there financially feasible for his family. He is to attend classes there this fall, majoring in accounting.

Colin has already earned 25 college credits from Messiah College, most through the PA Cyber Advanced Placement Alternatives early college program, along with additional credits for getting a 5 - the highest possible score - on the Advanced Placement Calculus exam. The Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth also paid tuition for six hours of credits earned through high scores when he took the SAT in seventh and eighth grades.

Only about 15,000 graduating seniors score high enough on the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test to be named National Merit Finalists, and only half of those – less than 1 percent of the 1.5 million students who take the test each year - receive National Merit Scholarships.

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