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15 School District Five students named National Merit Scholarship semifinalists

For Immediate Release – September 18, 2023



15 School District Five students named National Merit Scholarship semifinalists

IRMO – Fifteen students from Lexington-Richland School District Five have been announced as semifinalists in the National Merit Scholarship program.  These academically talented high school seniors have an opportunity to continue in the competition for some 7,140 National Merit Scholarships worth nearly $28 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 95 percent of the Semifinalists are expected to attain Finalist standing, and approximately half of the Finalists will win a National Merit Scholarship, earning the Merit Scholar® title. 


School District Five National Merit Scholarship semifinalists include: Brayden Berner (Chapin High), Leeton Brown (Chapin High), Damien Dedmond (Chapin High), Steven Eason (Chapin High), Andrew Farmer (Chapin High), Amber Hawkinson (Chapin High), Jeffrey Hu (Dutch Fork High), Caroline Huang (Dutch Fork High), Darwin Newman-Norlund (Dutch Fork High), Aaron Parr (Chapin High), Ryan Riddle (Spring Hill High), John Shelley (Dutch Fork High), Saina Srivastava (Spring Hill High), Kathryn Stover (Chapin High), and Andy Yang (Dutch Fork High).


"Congratulations to each of our students who have been recognized as National Merit Scholarship Semifinalists,” said School District Five Chief of Tina McCaskill. “The accomplishments of these 15 students demonstrate our district's commitment to academic excellence from our teachers and students. We celebrate with these students and their families and wish them well in the next steps of the program and their senior year."


Over 1.3 million juniors in about 21,000 high schools entered the 2024 National Merit Scholarship Program by taking the 2022 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. 


To become a Finalist, the Semifinalist and a high school official must submit a detailed scholarship application, in which they provide information about the Semifinalist’s academic record, participation in school and community activities, demonstrated leadership abilities, employment, and honors and awards received. A Semifinalist must have an outstanding academic record throughout high school, be endorsed and recommended by a high school official, write an essay, and earn SAT® or ACT® scores that confirm the student’s earlier performance on the qualifying test.


Three types of National Merit Scholarships will be offered in the spring of 2024. Every Finalist will compete for one of 2,500 National Merit® $2500 Scholarships that will be awarded on a state-representational basis. About 840 corporate-sponsored Merit Scholarship awards will be provided by approximately 160 corporations and business organizations for Finalists who meet their specified criteria, such as children of the grantor’s employees or residents of communities where sponsor plants or offices are located. In addition, about 160 colleges and universities are expected to finance some 3,800 college-sponsored Merit Scholarship awards for Finalists who will attend the sponsor institution. 

National Merit Scholarship winners of 2024 will be announced in four nationwide news releases beginning in April and concluding in July.  These scholarship recipients will join nearly 375,000 other distinguished young people who have earned the Merit Scholar title.