Eighteen Columbia high school students have been announced as National Merit semifinalists.

The high school seniors come from Battle, Hickman and Rock Bridge high schools and Father Tolton Catholic High School, and one is a home-schooled student. 

The students will now compete alongside 16,000 semifinalists across the country for scholarships totaling more than $31 million from the National Merit Scholarship Program. 

"We're excited because Hickman has always been about academic excellence," Hickman principal Tony Gragnani said of seven Hickman students on the list. 

More than 1.6 million high school juniors from 22,000 high schools around the country entered when they took the Preliminary SAT in 2017.

The National Merit Scholarship Corp. was established in 1955 as a not-for-profit organization and has provided scholarships annually for the nation's most academically accomplished. The semifinalists are the highest scoring entrants in the state and represent less than 1 percent of high school seniors in the U.S.

Principal Jennifer Rukstad of Rock Bridge, home to eight semifinalists, gives credit to the students: "It's an opportunity for the students to get recognized for their work." 

To become a finalist, a semifinalist must have an outstanding academic record, an endorsement from a high school official, write an essay and receive an SAT score that confirms a previous performance from the qualifying test.

Fifteen thousand students are anticipated to advance to the Finalist level and will be notified in February if they have reached this accomplishment. 


HICKMAN HIGH SCHOOL: Rachel M. Edidin, Benjamin D. Lewandowski , Katherine R. Neff, Guthrie L. Stroh, Teresa S. Tang, Aileen Xu and Erika J. Zhou.

HOME SCHOOL: Benjamin S. Scott.

ROCK BRIDGE HIGH SCHOOL: Kavin Anand, Riley K. Jones Joseph Koo, Emily C. Ma, Kathleen L. Meininger, Louise Schul, Wendy Yan and Jia L. Zhuang.


  • I am a senior studying Arts and Culture journalism. Any questions, comments or tips can be emailed to bmr6k5@mail.missouri.edu

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