Two highly active Darien seniors were awarded National Merit Scholarships.

Reed Morgan, a senior at Darien High School, and Darien resient Anjali Krishnamachar, who attends Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass., were awarded $2,500 scholarships for their academic and leadership achievements in high school.

Morgan and Krishnamachar were among 8,000 award recipients. They were selected from a group of 15,000 semi-finalists. The 8,000 students received a total of $35 million in college scholarships, according to the organization.

The program does not measure the quality or effectiveness of the education within a school system.

"Reed is truly an exceptional young man who has tirelessly committed himself to the Darien High School community," said Ellen Dunn, Darien High School assistant principal. "He has been an integral part of the Theatre 308 program and has directed and produced his own one-act production."

Morgan is also president of the National Honor Society at the high school. He's very active in many clubs around school including the Challenge Team, Math Team, Debate Club, Model UN and the Free Thinkers Club, according to Dunn, who will take over as principal in July.

"Reed has excelled in our Science Research Program and has received many accolades for his research in the area of archaeology," Dunn said. "While dedicating himself to the school through each of these endeavors, he has also been a model student who is curious, intelligent and creative. Reed gives of himself in every setting and we are thrilled that he has received this honor."

Four other Darien High School students were also selected as finalists: Caroline B. Congdon; Jonathon S. Gill; Katherine T. McKay; and Andrew W. Xiong.

Krishnamachar attended Darien High School for her freshman year of school before joining her sister in Andover for a school that, she felt, offered her more of a challenge.

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"This school has taught me how to work really hard," Krishnamachar said. "I really struggled at first, but part of the lifestyle of going to this school is learning to work hard and manage your time."

There, she was active in sports and academic groups.

"She is uniquely well-rounded," said Lisa Joel, Krishnamachar's varsity soccer coach of three years. "Can't pigeon hole her. She's really able to embrace all those roles in a genuine and successful way and that's what makes her really special."

Krishnamachar was also a member of the Nordic ski team and the ultimate Frisbee team, which is primarily made of male students.

"In so many different ways, she also demonstrates a willingness to stretch herself beyond her comfortable level," Joel said.

Krishnamachar was also, in her senior year, chosen to be a Personal and Community Education, or PACE, leader, one of 11 students that are chosen to teach a mandated class for juniors.

"There are no other opportunities for students to be a classroom leader for her peers," Joel said. "Being a PACE senior means you are one of the role models in the school."

Keith Robinson, who taught Krishnamachar in AP Biology, said she was one of the best students he's had.

"She's super smart but you wouldn't know if you sat in on the class right away," Robinson said. "She's calm and goes with the flow and works great with all the kids."

Along with being active athletically, Krishnamachar was also the chair of the community service board, a proctor in the dorms (similar to being a resident assistant in college dorms) and a PACE leader.

Morgan is anticipated to study anthropology in the fall and Krishnamachar will study engineering.;203-972-4407;@Meg_DarienNews