Columbia students named National Merit semifinalists

Friday, September 26, 2008 | 6:35 p.m. CDT; updated 9:34 a.m. CDT, Wednesday, October 1, 2008

COLUMBIA — Twenty-five Columbia high school students have been named National Merit semifinalists based on scores from the PSAT, which they took as juniors. 

More than 1.5 million students in the U.S. entered the 2009 National Merit Scholarship competition, and of those, 16,000 have been named semifinalists. The PSAT, in its 54th year, assesses a student's skills in critical reading, math problem-solving and writing.

Semifinalists represent less than one percent of U.S. high school seniors and include the highest scoring participants in each state. The number of semifinalists for each state is proportional to the state's percentage of the national total of graduating seniors.

The following Columbia high school students have been named 2009 National Merit semifinalists: Allen Greenlief, Shafi Lodhi, David Lopez, Lisa Mao, Sangita Sharma and Brady Still, all of Rock Bridge High School; Benjamin Heider of Christian Fellowship School; Adithi Vellore, Eric Allen, Benjamin Atkins, Jonathan Chang, Constance Cho, Ashok Cutkosky, Lucy Fang, Sarah Fritsche, Benjamin Hoffman, Jessica Hwang, Joseph Langworthy, Emma Myers, Christopher Novosel, Jordan Occeña, Gina Pai, Abby Sun, Katherine Van Doren and Charlotte Wesley, all of Hickman High School.

By taking the test, which is co-sponsored by the College Board and National Merit Scholarship Corporation, students may qualify for prominent scholarships and recognition. Nationally, close to 90 percent of the semifinalists are anticipated to achieve finalist standing, and approximately half of those finalists will win a National Merit scholarship.

The PSAT serves as only the preliminary screening for possible National Merit finalists. Finalists are determined by their high school academic records, school principal recommendations and SAT test performance. Semifinalists must also submit an essay and summary of school leadership and community involvement.

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