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Credit: Kelly Sewell

A total of 19 students from high schools in DeSoto County Schools (DCS) have been named National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) semifinalists. The group is among about 1,600 students selected nationwide for the scholarship program. 

The high school seniors have an opportunity to continue in the competition for some 7,500 National Merit Scholarships worth more than $32 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. 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. NMSC, a not-for-profit organization that operates without government assistance, was established in 1955 specifically to conduct the annual award program. Scholarships are underwritten by NMSC with its own funds and by approximately 420 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. About 1.6 million juniors in more than 22,000 high schools entered the 2018 National Merit Scholarship Program by taking the 2016 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 one 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. From the approximately 16,000 semifinalists, about 15,000 are expected to advance to the finalists level, and in February they will be notified of this designation.

“We congratulate the students who are semifinalists,” said DCS Supt. Cory Uselton. “The National Merit Scholarship Program honors students who show exceptional academic ability and potential for success in rigorous college students. This is a prestigious honor for our schools and for our school district.”

The students who are National Merit Scholarship semifinalists include the following:   Hernando: Emily MacLain, Stephen McCann and William Trigg. Center Hill: Murphy Hester, Jordan Riecke and Stephen Shol. Lewisburg: Addison Green, Dylan Hughes, Caitlin Luke, Isabella Smith and Paul Winters. DeSoto Central: Jacob Camp, Gregory Nelson, Emma Peacock and Reese Share. Southaven: Bailey Jones and Hannah Witherspoon.

Lake Cormorant: Tanner Cheek and Jaden Zinn.

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