National Merit Scholarship Semifinalists Announced

Of the 16,000 semifinalist seniors chosen nationwide to take part in the $2500 National Merit Scholarship competition, 24 were from Los Altos High School.

The National Merit Scholarship is an honor that high school seniors receive for scoring above a cutoff line on their junior PSATs. This year’s cutoff line was raised to an all-time high of 223, up from 220.  The cutoff line is determined by the National Merit Corporation and varies from state to state.

Despite the higher cutoff, the school still saw an increase in the number of semifinalists.  Last year, 15 students qualified as semifinalists, but this year there were 24 semifinalists.

“It is quite an honor,” counselor Maryann Smetzer said.  “We are really proud of everyone and hope they’re excited about the [scholarship] process.”

The semifinalists have to fill out the National Merit Scholarship application around the time of the semifinalist announcements. In early February of 2014, finalists are announced.  Finalists are eligible for the $2500 scholarship, which are provided either by the National Merit Corporation, corporate sponsors, or universities.

“Since most of the semifinalists [who have received the National Merit Scholarship] become finalists, there is a good chance that the semifinalists [of Los Altos High School] will go onto being finalists in the competition,” Smetzer said.

This year’s Los Altos High School merit semifinalists are:

Elizabeth Bishop, Nicholas Bousse, Faith Chan, Alina Chen, Madeleine Colbert, Salim Damerdji, Julia Goupil, Natalie Hollenbaugh, Sarah Jacobs, Owen Jow, Katherine Liu, William Liu, Derrick Lu, Veronica Mark, James Merrill, Anica Nangia, Matthew Ruehle, Laura Shea, Angelica Wilson, Arissa Wongpanich, Wendy Wu, Elaine Zhao, Lillian Zhao, and Michael Zhu