National Merit semi-finalists announced

EVANSTON, Ill. — Four students from St. Croix Valley schools were among the approximately 16,000 semi-finalists in the National Merit Scholarship Corp.’s (NMSC) 59th annual National Merit Scholarship Program.

St. Croix Valley students named National Merit Scholarship semi-finalists were Leah B. Kosyakovsky and Lillyan Pan from Stillwater Area High School; Nichlas P. Boyd from Mahtomedi High School, and Jackson J. Kadidlo and Emily M. Schertz from Hudson, Wis., High School.

These area high school seniors have an opportunity to continue in the competition for some 8,000 National Merit Scholarships worth about $35 million offered next spring. To be considered for a Merit Scholarship award, semi-finalists must fulfil several requirements to advance to the finalist level. About 90 percent of semi-finalists are expected to attain finalist standing, and more than half of the finalists will win a National Merit scholarships.

NMSC, a not-for-profit organization operating 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 440 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.

About 1.5 million juniors in more than 22,000 high schools entered the 2014 National Merit Scholarship Program by taking the 2012 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying test, which serves as an initial screening of entrants. The nationwide pool of semi-finalists, representing less than one percent of U.S. high school seniors, includes the highest scoring entrants in each state. The number of semi-finalists in a state is proportional to the state’s percentage of the national total of graduating seniors.

To become a finalist, the semi-finalist and their high school must submit a detailed scholarship application, in which they provide information about the candidate’s academic record, participation in school and community activities, demonstrated leadership abilities, employment and honors and awards received.

A semi-finalist 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 semi-finalists, about 15,000 are expected to advance to the finalist level and will be notified in February.