MPS announces national merit semifinalists

MONTGOMERY, AL - Eight Montgomery Public School students joined the ranks of the nation's top students to be named National Merit Semifinalists by the prestigious National Merit Scholarship Program. The news coincided with the National Merit Scholarship Corporation's release of the names of semifinalists nationwide.

Booker T. Washington Magnet High School student Hannah K. Tucker and Loveless Academic Magnet Program High School students Anne Dickens, Zachary Gentle, Alexandria Gilbert, Dustin Lisenby, Tyler Nuanes, Casey Stephenson and Russell Willoughby are now among 16,000 students who can claim the Merit Semifinalist distinction out of a pool of 1.5 million who applied for the program. Semifinalists represent less than one percent of all U.S. high school seniors and are the highest scoring program entrants in each state. About 90 percent of Semifinalists become Finalists, and about half of the Finalists earn a scholarship.

"For the past several years we have had students receive this national distinction," said MPS Superintendent Barbara Thompson. "Last year, we had 12 students named Merit Semifinalist, and the year before that, we had 14. Several of our students advanced to Finalist status and went on to receive scholarships to some of our nation's best schools. I think that shows the caliber of our students and the increasing challenge and rigor in our curriculum. Principals Quesha Starks and Sylvia Goshton and their teachers, staff, and parents have done an outstanding job. I am very proud of what they have achieved."

This year, more than 1.5 million juniors in 22,000 U.S. high schools entered the 2011 National Merit Scholarship Program by taking the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test, which serves as an initial screen of program entrants. Those scores, plus their academic record, community involvement, leadership ability, and a personal essay are considered when determining Semifinalists status. These students will now advance in the competition and will have the opportunity to compete for some 8,200 National Merit Scholarships, worth more than $36 million, that will be offered next spring.