COLUMBIA, SC – September 10, 2008 – One hundred and forty-six seniors in 50 South Carolina public high schools have been named semifinalists in the 54th annual National Merit Scholarship Program. They were among the 16,000 students to achieve the ranking nationwide, according to officials at the National Merit Scholarship Corporation.
Semifinalists have an opportunity to continue in the competition for some 8,200 Merit Scholarship awards, worth $35 million, that will be offered next spring. About 90 percent of the students named today are expected to attain finalist standing, and approximately half of those will be selected as scholarship winners, earning the Merit Scholar title.
“I congratulate these students for their pursuit of academic excellence,” said State Superintendent of Education Jim Rex. “Semifinalist status puts them in the top one percent of our nation’s high school seniors and proves they are truly scholastic champions.”
The Governor’s School for Science and Mathematics in Hartsville had the largest number of South Carolina semifinalists with 11. Richland District One’s Dreher High School and Spring Valley High in Richland District Two each had 9 semifinalists. Dorman High School in Spartanburg District Six had eight students make the grade.
Three home-schooled students in the state also qualified as semifinalists, along with 33 students from 17 private schools. More than 1.5 million juniors in over 21,000 high schools entered the 2009 National Merit Program by taking the 2007 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test, which served as an initial screen of program entrants.
The National Merit Scholarship Corporation is a nonprofit organization established in 1955. It is supported in part by approximately 500 business organizations and higher education institutions.