VHS students named to National Merit semifinals

VHS students named to National Merit semifinals Approximately 15,500 semifinalists in the 44th annual National Merit Scholarship Program have been announced. These academically talented high school seniors now have an opportunity to continue in the competition for some 7,600 Merit Scholarship awards, worth over $28 million, that will be offered next spring.

Semifinalists from Vermillion High School are Vani Ramakrishnan, Kendra Korte, and Michael Paulson.

National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC), which conducts the academic competition, is a privately financed, not for profit corporation. Scholarships awarded through the Merit Program are supported by about 600 independent sponsor organizations and institutions that join NMSC in its efforts to honor scholastically able young men and women, to broaden their educational opportunities, and to encourage academic excellence at all levels.

Nearly 1.2 million students in over 20,000 U.S. high schools entered the 1999 Merit Program as juniors by taking the 1997 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT), which served as an initial screen of program entrants. Semifinalists named today are the highest scorers in each state and represent less than one percent of each state's high school graduating class.

The next step for semifinalists is to fulfill requirements for advancement to finalist standing, a prerequisite to consideration for a Merit Scholarship award. They must have an outstanding high school academic record, be endorsed and recommended by their school principal, and submit SAT scores that confirm their earlier qualifying test performance. Also, the semifinalist and a school official must complete a detailed scholarship application which includes the student's self-descriptive essay as well as information about the semifinalist's record of participation and leadership in school and community activities.

About 90 percent, or approximately 14,000 of the semifinalists, are expected to meet the high standards required to be finalists. All 7,600 Merit Scholar designees will be chosen from the finalist group — without regard to gender, race, ethnic origin, or religious preference. Scholarship winners will be the finalist candidates judged by professionals in admission and selection to have the strongest combination of abilities, academic and extracurricular achievements, and personal attributes considered to be important for success in rigorous college studies.

Three types of Merit Scholarship awards will be offered in 1999. Every finalist will be considered for one of 2,400 National Merit $2,000 scholarships that will be awarded on a state representational basis. Some 400 corporations and business organizations will provide about 1,200 corporate-sponsored Merit Scholarship awards for finalists who meet the sponsor's preferential criteria. In addition, about 200 colleges and universities are expected to underwrite more than 4,000 college-sponsored Merit Scholarships awards for finalists who will attend the institutions financing their awards.

The majority of 1999 Merit Scholarship awardees will be announced in three major media releases in April and May; supplemental announcements will be made during the summer. These scholarship winners will join about 177,600 other distinguished young people who have earned the title Merit Scholar since completion of the first Merit Program in 1956.

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