North Shelby, Alabaster students win National Merit scholarships

By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor

A trio of Shelby County students each won $2,500 after they were named National Merit scholarship winners on May 6.

Elise Helton, a student at Alabaster’s Evangel Classical Christian School, Oak Mountain High School student Nathan Scott Holt and Westminster School at Oak Mountain student Ethan Shaw were chosen among the 2,500 merit scholarship winners from a pool of more than 15,000 finalists nationwide.

“National Merit $2,500 scholarship winners are the finalists in each state judged to have the strongest combination of accomplishments, skills and potential for success in rigorous college studies,” read a National Merit release. “These scholars were selected by a committee of college admissions officers and high school counselors, who appraised a substantial amount of information submitted by both the finalists and their high schools.”

Before selecting the scholarship winners, the committee examined each student’s academic record, including difficulty and level of subjects studied and grades, scores from standardized tests, leadership contributions in their schools and community, submitted essay and high school staff recommendation.

Helton is planning to pursue a career field in law, Holt is planning to continue his education in the engineering field and Shaw is planning to pursue a future in the international relations field.

The three students’ scholarships can be used at any regionally accredited college or university in the nation.

The students began their journey to receiving a scholarship when they took the Preliminary SAT when they were juniors in October 2013. The highest-scoring participants in each state, which represented less than 1 percent of all high school seniors in the nation, were named semifinalists.

By the end of July about 7,600 students nationwide will receive National Merit scholarships worth about $34 million.