National Merit Scholarship Semi-Finalists


Two of the semi-finalists from WRHS, Emily Leonard (12) and Taylor Douglas (12), with Mrs. White.

Semi-finalists for the National Merit Scholarship were named, and four of the semi-finalists were students from Wiregrass Ranch High School (WRHS). These students are Taylor Douglas, Emily Leonard, Angelora Cooper, and Joseph Basi. Two other students, Conner Weik and Jessica Lu, received letters of commendation meaning they do not continue in the National Merit Scholarship competition, however they received high scores on the PSAT/NMSQT and do become candidates for other special scholarships.

The National Merit Scholarship is an academic competition high school students enter by taking the PSAT or National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (NMSQT). To enter, students must meet a few requirements. They must take the PSAT no later than their junior year, be enrolled as a high school student, and be a U.S. citizen or U.S. lawful resident.

Mrs. White congratulating Taylor Douglas and giving them their school pin.

Senior Taylor Douglas practiced online to prepare for the exam.

“I went on Khan Academy, it’s all free and they have practice tests and practice questions,” Douglas said.

Mrs. White congratulating Emily Leonard and giving them their school pin.

Senior Emily Leonard agrees that taking practice tests will help students feel more confident.

“I really don’t feel that the PSAT is a test that you can effectively study for because it tests knowledge instead of content. However, a good way to prepare for the style and timing of the exam is by taking practice tests,” Leonard explained.

In September, 16,000 students out of the 1.6 million who took the test are told they have qualified as a semi-finalist for the National Merit Scholarship. These students scored in the top 1% of the state they live in. To continue on as a finalist, the students must meet high academic standards, complete the finalist application, and take the SAT to get scores that confirm how they did on the PSAT.

“Being a semi-finalist opens up a lot more possibilities, even more so if I can become a finalist because there are a lot more scholarship opportunities,” Douglas said. “There are a lot more colleges I can go to that I might not have been able to go to before as well.”

On Friday morning, semi-finalists Emily Leonard and Taylor Douglas and their families met with Mrs. White and had a celebratory breakfast. At the breakfast, the students learned they were semi-finalists and were given a school pin by Mrs. White.

Semi-finalists Emily Leonard (12) and Taylor Douglas (12) at National Merit breakfast with their families.

Angelora Cooper’s family was also at the breakfast, but she was not in attendance because she was visiting Williams College in Massachusetts.

Senior Angelora Cooper

“I was invited to Williams College through the Windows on Williams Program. They actually flew me out and I was able to go into the classrooms and meet faculty and students. It was a really worthwhile experience.”

Finalists are rewarded one of three Merit Scholarships: National Merit $2500 Scholarships, corporate-sponsored Merit Scholarship awards, and college-sponsored Merit Scholarship awards. The finalists for the National Merit Scholarship will be announced in February of 2018, and National Merit Scholars will be announced in April of 2018.