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Eight Jackson students selected as National Merit Scholarship semifinalists

Patricia Faulhaber
Suburbanite correspondent

JACKSON TWP. Eight Jackson High School students have been selected as 2021 National Merit Scholarship semifinalists. It is the highest number of semifinalists the district has had in the past several years.

The eight semifinalists are Allan Cao, Zachary Charlick, Ryan Farneth, Lauren Hall, Nagappranav Nagajothi, Dorothy Stuhmiller, Grace Sykes and Matthew Visco.

They now have the opportunity to continue to compete for 7,600 National Merit Scholarships worth more than $30 million.

Eight Jackson High School students are semifinalists for a National Merit Scholarship

"Over the years, Jackson has had four, six or as many as seven compete, but this is the highest number we’ve had in many years," said Jackson High School counselor Jackie Pitzo. “Students have been taking standardized tests more often in school and they have become more practiced at taking the tests. The district also purchased test prep tools that have helped the students get ready for testing and that has helped. But it is also a testament to the hard work our students put in over their school years and taking the hard courses to prepare for these tests.”

Students realize several benefits from competing in the National Merit Scholarship program. Pitzo said that it is highly prestigious to be named one of only 16,000 semifinalists across the U.S. Plus, it’s another accolade to include when applying for colleges.

To be considered for a Merit Scholarship award, semifinalists must fulfill several requirements to advance to the finalist level of the competition. More than 90 percent of the semifinalists are expected to attain finalist standing and more than half of the finalists will win a National Merit Scholarship, earning the Merit Scholar title.

While the semifinalist competition was based on test scores alone, the competition for finalist includes the academic counselors completing an application for each student and each student completing an application which includes an essay.

“These eight students are a strong group who are the most academically prestigious students we have in the district,” Pitzo said.

About the National Merit Scholarship Program:

• More than 1.5 million juniors in about 21,000 high schools entered the 2021 National Merit Scholarship Program. They did so by taking the 2019 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. The nationwide pool of semifinalists, representing less than 1 percent of U.S. high school seniors, includes the highest-scoring entrants from each state.

• Three types of National Merit Scholarships will be offered in spring 2021. Every finalist will compete for one of 2,500 National Merit $2,500 scholarships, awarded on a state-representation basis. About 1,000 corporate scholarships will be provided by about 220 corporations and business organizations for finalists who meet their specific criteria. About 180 colleges and universities are expected to finance 4,100 college-sponsored awards for finalists who attend their institution. National Merit Scholarships winners will be announced from April to June.