17 students named National Merit finalists

Wednesday, April 18, 2012 | 2:34 p.m. CDT; updated 11:58 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, April 18, 2012

*A previous version of this story incorrectly reported that all the winners have been chosen. However, the list includes only one scholarship winner; the others are still finalists for awards.

COLUMBIA — Seventeen high school students from Columbia have been named National Merit Scholarship finalists.

Among the finalists, 11 are from Rock Bridge High School, five are from Hickman High School and one is from Christian Fellowship School. These finalists were narrowed down from a pool of about 1.5 million students who took the preliminary SAT test, according to a National Merit news release. Then, about 16,000 semifinalists were named based on the test scores, according to the release.

This year, semifinalists had to achieve a score of 213 or higher on the preliminary SAT, according to a previous Missourian report.

*After submitting applications, about 15,000 of the semifinalists became finalists. Award winners were chosen from that pool based on an essay, recommendations from their schools and actual SAT scores, the release stated.

Christian Fellowship, Hickman and Rock Bridge principals Scott Williams, Tracey Conrad and Mark Maus, respectively, identified the following students as finalists:


  • Benjamin Taylor


  • Carter Datz
  • Jeanna Hoffman
  • Daniel Hwang
  • Annemarie Van Doren
  • Avery Wagner


  • Christian Ackmann
  • Riaz Helfer
  • Katherine Hobbs
  • Elena Horvit
  • Avantika Khatri
  • Amy Scott
  • Nicholas Sun
  • Methma Udawatta
  • Christina Wang
  • Walter Wang
  • Angela Zhang

By mid-June, National Merit will announce about 8,300 finalists who will receive scholarships, according to the release. These award winners will either receive a one-time $2,500 award or a scholarship sponsored by a specific corporation or college, according to the National Merit Scholarship Corporation website

So far, only the corporate scholarships have been announced. The only student from Columbia to receive a corporate scholarship, according to the release, is Rock Bridge's Khatri, who was awarded the National Merit Macy's Inc. Scholarship. A letter she received said she will be given $1,000 per academic year for four years.

Khatri said she was grateful for the award, not only because of the money but also because it was an accomplishment that helped her get into the colleges she was looking at. She is currently considering attending Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., or Carleton College in Northfield, Minn., next fall.

"It's more money than I was expecting," she said. "Any amount helps."

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Michael Williams April 18, 2012 | 5:15 p.m.

Congrats to all, especially Rock Bridge.

Times past, Hickman received the bulk of these awards hereabouts.

(Disclosure: My 3 daughters went to Hickman so...yes...I can give credit when due...especially for something REALLY important like this :^)

Very good, students. I'm proud of each. I'm betting your parents were involved big-time. Please thank them.)

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