Area semifinalists named in National Merit scholarship competition

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Sep. 14—Nine local high school seniors have been named semifinalists in the National Merit Scholarship Program.

Area semifinalists are Nico M. Carlson, Nathaniel C. Curtis, Ryken D. Garren and Phoenix K. Wade, all from Thomas Jefferson Independent Day School in Joplin; Sylvia D. Rainey, of Nevada High School; Evan C. Garrison and Truman J. Oaks, of Webb City High School; Jaxson N. Robinson, of Girard (Kansas) High School; and Daniel G. Riachi, of Pittsburg (Kansas) High School.

They are among approximately 16,000 National Merit semifinalists across the U.S. whose names were announced Wednesday. The students now have an opportunity to compete for 7,250 National Merit scholarships worth nearly $28 million.

The 2023 scholarship program began when the students, as high school juniors, last year took a qualifying test that served as an initial screen of program entrants. The semifinalists, representing less than 1% of high school seniors, were the highest-scoring entrants in each state.

To become a finalist in the program, a student must submit a scholarship application with information about their academic record, participation in school and community activities, demonstrated leadership abilities, employment, and honors or awards received. More than 15,000 students are expected to advance to the finalist level; that announcement will be made in February.

Three types of National Merit scholarships will be awarded in the spring. Every finalist will compete for one of 2,500 $2,500 scholarships. About 950 corporate-sponsored scholarships will be provided by approximately 180 business organizations for finalists who meet their criteria. About 160 colleges and universities will finance roughly 3,800 scholarships for finalists who plan to attend the sponsor institution.

The announcement of 2023 scholarship recipients will begin in April and conclude in July.