The National Merit Scholarship Program has announced its latest batch of semifinalists, qualifying several local high school seniors to continue competing for about 7,500 scholarships worth nearly $30 million that will be offered next spring.

Among the 16,000 semifinalists named in the 67th annual National Merit Scholarship Program, most are expected to advance as finalists, and roughly half of those will be named scholarship winners and earn the Merit Scholar title.

Semifinalists attending Warren County Public Schools include Greenwood High School student Veronique DeMarse and South Warren High School students Ethan Brown, Emily Fan, Jacob Jackson and Shelby Williams.

Bowling Green High School students named as National Merit semifinalists include James Han, Maya Ganesh, Zoe Hu and Clay Wallace.

Several local high school students attending Western Kentucky University’s Gatton Academy were also named semifinalists.

They include Bowling Green High School students Sahil Chhabra, Harrison Gover and Maya Lebedinsky, along with Greenwood High School students Bella Norman, Samirah Salifu, and Arivumani Srivastava.

A news release said three types of scholarships are on the line for the semifinalists next spring, should they continue to advance in the competition.

Every finalist will vie for one of 2,500 National Merit Scholarship awards, each totaling $2,500 and awarded based on state representation. About 200 corporate sponsors are financing another 1,000 Merit Scholarship awards for finalists who meet their criteria (i.e. the children of their employees or local students within their communities). On top of that, about 180 colleges and universities will fund roughly 4,000 Merit Scholarships for finalists planning to attend the sponsoring school.

It’s no small task to advance in the National Merit competition.

High school juniors had to pass an initial screening by taking the 2020 preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. The nationwide pool of semifinalists – representing less than 1% of U.S. high school seniors – includes the highest-scoring entrants in each state, the release said.

To advance to the finalist round, semifinalists and a high school official must submit a detailed scholarship application in which they provide information about the semifinalist’s academic record, participation in school and community activities, demonstrated leadership abilities, employment and honors and awards.

Semifinalists must have an outstanding academic record throughout high school, be endorsed and recommended by a high school official, write an essay and earn SAT or ACT scores that confirm the student’s earlier performance on the qualifying test.

Out of the approximately 16,000 semifinalists, about 15,000 are expected to advance to the finalist level. They will be received notification in February, the release said.

– Follow education reporter Aaron Mudd on Twitter @NewsByAaron or visit bgdaily

– Follow education reporter Aaron Mudd on Twitter @NewsByAaron or visit

Education reporter. Covers education and related issues, focusing primarily on the Bowling Green and Warren County public school districts and Western Kentucky University.

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