Local National Merit scholar finalists announced

The National Merit Scholarship Corporation recently announced that 13 high school seniors from the Issaquah School District and 21 from Lake Washington schools qualified as semifinalists in the 54th annual National Merit Scholarship Program.

Six students from Issaquah High School qualified as finalists. They are Gretchen E. Allen, Spencer R. Hildie, Ariel C. Jacoby, Kevin W. Lee, Tiffany W. Lim and Helen L. Liu. One Liberty High School student, Hayley E. Grandine of Issaquah, also qualified.

In Sammamish, seven other students qualified as finalists, including Thomas Cools of Eastlake High School, Christopher A. Jung of Eastside Catholic and Emily C. Baer, John B. Gerlach, Ariel U. Goh, Derrik F. Petrin and Evan J. Shieh of Skyline High School.

A total of about 15,000 academically talented students nationwide qualify for this status. These students will have an opportunity to compete for 8,200 Merit Scholarship awards, worth a total of $35 million or approximately $2,500 each.

These qualifiers come from the over 1.5 million juniors in high school who took the 2008 Prelminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT). The total pool of finalists represents less than one percent of high school seniors.

All winners of Merit Scholarship awards are chosen from the finalist group, based on their abilities, skills, and accomplishments. Each finalist is evaluated on their academic record, information about the school’s curricula and grading system, two sets of test scores, the school official’s written recommendation, information about the student’s activities and leadership, and the finalist’s own essay. Scholarships will be awarded between March and June 2010.