Nine OMHS students among National Merit Semifinalists

Published 5:32 pm Thursday, September 12, 2019

NORTH SHELBY – Nine Oak Mountain High School seniors were among the 16,000 students across the country named Wednesday, Sept. 11, as Semifinalists in the 65th annual National Merit Scholarship Program.

The OMHS students include Matthew Bray, Elizabeth Camp, Neil Furman, Patrick Guffey, Gideon Lombardo, Gregory McCallum, Dylan Moore, Joshua Scherer and Rilyn Todd.

“Nine from a school is amazing, absolutely amazing,” Oak Mountain High School Principal Kristi Sayers said while congratulating the students, who were presented their official letters along with applause and cupcakes.

In addition to their Merit Semifinalist status, Bray recorded a perfect 36 score on the ACT and perfect 1600 score on the SAT; while Camp, Furman, Lombardo and McCallum all scored a 36 on the ACT.

These academically talented high school seniors have an opportunity to continue in the competition for some 7,600 National Merit Scholarships worth more than $31 million that will be offered next spring. To be considered for a Merit Scholarship award, Semifinalists must fulfill several requirements to advance to the Finalist level of the competition.

Over 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.

NMSC, a not-for-profit organization that operates without government assistance, was established in 1955 specifically to conduct the annual National Merit Scholarship Program.

Scholarships are underwritten by NMSC with its own funds and by approximately 400 business organizations and higher education institutions that share NMSC’s goals of honoring the nation’s scholastic champions and encouraging the pursuit of academic excellence.

Over 1.5 million juniors in about 21,000 high schools entered the 2020 National Merit Scholarship Program by taking the 2018 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT), which served as an initial screen of program entrants. The nationwide pool of Semifinalists, representing less than 1 percent of U.S. high school seniors, includes the

highest-scoring entrants in each state. The number of Semifinalists in a state is proportional to the state’s percentage of the national total of graduating seniors.

To become a Finalist, the Semifinalist and a high school official 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 or ACT 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, and in February 2020 they will be notified of this designation. All National Merit Scholarship winners will be selected from this group of Finalists. Merit Scholar designees are selected on the basis of their skills, accomplishments, and potential for success in rigorous college studies, without regard to gender, race, ethnic origin or religious preference.

For more information about the competition, please visit NMSC’s website at