Local students named National Merit semifinalists

Published 5:04 pm Friday, September 16, 2016

Five Shelby County Schools’ students from Oak Mountain and Helena High Schools were named 2017 semifinalists for the National Merit Scholarship. (Contributed)

Several students from Shelby County were recently named 2017 semifinalists for the National Merit Scholarship. (Contributed)


Several students throughout Shelby County have been named 2017 semifinalists for the National Merit Scholarship, the organization recently announced.

The following local students were named National Merit semifinalists:

-Daniel Smith, who attends homeschool in Alabaster

– Armeen Barghi, Oak Mountain High School

-Kathryn Holt, Oak Mountain High School

-William Laycock, Oak Mountain High School

-Colby Wetzel, Oak Mountain High School

-Abhimanyu Arora, Spain Park High School

-Margaret Baldwin, Spain Park High School

-Jackson Gutshall, Spain Park High School

-Nate Rogers, Spain Park High School

– Jared Cleghorn, Helena High School

-Nicole Bogan, Indian Springs School

-Isaac Griffin-Layne, Indian Springs School

-Davis Tyler-Dudley, Indian Springs School

-Yichun Zhou, Indian Springs School

-Kaitlyn Smith, Pelham High School

According to a Sept. 14 release from the National Merit Scholarship Corporation, these academically talented high school seniors have an opportunity to continue in the competition for about 7,500 National Merit Scholarships worth more than $33 million to be awarded next spring.

To be considered for a Merit Scholarship award, semifinalists must fulfill several requirements to advance to the finalist level of the competition.

About 90 percent of the semifinalists are expected to attain finalist standing, and about half of the finalists will win a National Merit Scholarship, earning the Merit Scholar title.

About 1.6 million juniors in more than 22,000 high schools across the nation entered the 2017 National Merit Scholarship Program by taking the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test, which served as an initial screen of program entrants. The pool of semifinalists, which represents less than 1 percent of American high school seniors, includes the highest-scoring entrants in each state.

To become a finalist, the semifinalist and his or her high school must submit a detailed scholarship application, in which they provide information about the semifinalist’s academic record, participation in school and community activities, demonstrated leadership abilities, employment and honors and awards received.

A semifinalist must have an outstanding academic record throughout high school, be endorsed and recommended by a high school official, write an essay and earn SAT scores that confirm the student’s earlier performance on the qualifying test.

From the approximately 16,000 semifinalists, about 15,000 are expected to advance to the finalist level, which will be announced in February 2017.

Merit Scholar designees are selected on the basis of their skills, accomplishments and their potential for success in rigorous college studies.