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Los Alamos High School Students Are Semifinalists In 2018 National Merit Scholarship Program

on September 15, 2017 - 10:19am

Seventeen LAHS students are named semifinalists in the 2018 National Merit Scholarship Program. Gathered to celebrate, back row from left, Principal Carter Payne, Superintendent Dr. Kurt Steinhaus, Phillip Martin, Cameron Art, Prescott Moore, Donald Poston, Rachel Frankle, Sophia Li, Kyler Parkinson, Matilde Jacobson, Athletic Director Ann Stewart, Shayna Mallett and Dean of Students Jennifer Kieltyka. Front row from left, David Gao, Olivia Taylor, Sarah Russell, Neelima Prasad, Ben Rees, Miriam Wallstrom, Sara Shiina, Sarah Shipley, Radhika Iyer and Assistant Principal Renee Dunwoody. Courtesy Photo

LAHS News:

Officials of National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) have announced the names of approximately 16,000 semifinalists in the 63rd annual National Merit Scholarship Program. 

Seventeen members of the Class of 2018 are a part of this elite group: Cameron Art, Rachel Frankle, David Gao, Radhika Iyer, Matilde Jacobson, Sophia Li, Phillip Martin, Prescott Moore, Kyler Parkinson, Donald Poston, Neelima Prasad, Benjamin Rees, Sarah Russell, Sara Shiina, Sarah Shipley, Olivia Taylor and Miriam Wallstrom. Shayna Mallett, a former LAHS student and currently a homeschool student in Jemez Springs, also was named a 2018 semifinalist. 

“We are very pleased that Los Alamos High School is well represented this year in the National Merit Scholarship program,” Principal Carter Payne said. “We are very proud of our 2018 National Merit Semifinalists. They are all well-rounded students, and are very involved in academics, athletics, extracurricular activities and community outreach.”

These academically talented high school seniors have an opportunity to continue in the competition for some 7,500 National Merit Scholarships worth more than $32 million that will be offered next spring. To be considered for a Merit Scholarship® award, Semifinalists must fulfill several requirements to advance to the Finalist level of the competition. About 90 percent of the Semifinalists are expected to attain Finalist standing, and about half of the Finalists will win a National Merit Scholarship, earning the Merit Scholar® title.

The National Merit Semifinalists and their parents were honored at a luncheon Thursday hosted by the principal. Also in attendance were Superintendent Dr. Kurt Steinhaus, School Board President Jenny McCumber, Assistant Principal Renee Dunwoody, Athletic Director Ann Stewart, Dean of Students Jennifer Kieltyka and other guests. The luncheon was catered by teacher Rebecca Jones and her ProStart students.

NMSC, a not-for-profit organization that operates without government assistance, was established in 1955 specifically to conduct the annual National Merit Scholarship Program. Scholarships are underwritten by NMSC with its own funds and by approximately 420 business organizations and higher education institutions that share NMSC’s goals of honoring the nation’s scholastic champions and encouraging the pursuit of academic excellence.

Steps in the 2018 Competition

About 1.6 million juniors in more than 22,000 high schools entered the 2018 National Merit Scholarship Program by taking the 2016 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT®), which served as an initial screen of program entrants. The nationwide pool of Semifinalists, representing less than one percent of U.S. high school seniors, includes the highest-scoring entrants in each state. The number of Semifinalists in a state is proportional to the state’s percentage of the national total of graduating seniors.

To become a Finalist, the Semifinalist and his or her high school must submit a detailed scholarship application, in which they provide information out the Semifinalist’s academic record, participation in school and community activities, demonstrated leadership abilities, employment, and honors and awards received. A Semifinalist must have an outstanding academic record throughout high school, be endorsed and recommended by a high school official, write an essay, and earn SAT® scores that confirm the student’s earlier performance on the qualifying test.

From the approximately 16,000 Semifinalists, about 15,000 are expected to advance to the Finalist level, and in February, they will be notified of this designation. All National Merit Scholarship winners will be selected from this group of Finalists. Merit Scholar designees are selected on the basis of their skills, accomplishments, and potential for success in rigorous college studies, without regard to gender, race, ethnic origin or religious preference.

National Merit Scholarships

Three types of National Merit Scholarships will be offered in the spring of 2018. Every Finalist will compete for one of 2,500 National Merit® $2500 Scholarships that will be awarded on a state-representational basis. About 1,000 corporate-sponsored Merit Scholarship awards will be provided by approximately 230 corporations and business organizations for Finalists who meet their specified criteria, such as children of the grantor’s employees or residents of communities where sponsor plants or offices are located. In addition, about 190 colleges and universities are expected to finance some 4,000 college-sponsored Merit Scholarship awards for Finalists who will attend the sponsor institution.

National Merit Scholarship winners of 2018 will be announced in four nationwide news releases beginning in April and concluding in July. These scholarship recipients will join more than 330,000 other distinguished young people who have earned the Merit Scholar title.


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