Five seniors named National Merit Semifinalists

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Five seniors have been named semifinalists in the 57th annual National Merit Scholarship Program. The students are Ilana Cohen, Zoë Frank, Holly Kim, Dylan Shields, and Jeremy Wood. They are among 16,000 semifinalists nationwide who are eligible to compete for 8,300 National Merit Scholarships worth more than $34 million that will be offered in the spring, according to a release from the National Merit Scholarship Corp.

To qualify as semifinalists, about 1.5 million high school students took a qualifying exam during their junior year.

From those, the highest-scoring entrants from each state, who represent less than 1 percent of all U.S. high school seniors, were chosen. The number chosen per state is proportional to the state's percentage of the national total of graduating seniors, according to the release.

To be considered for a scholarship, semifinalists have several additional steps to complete. Each must be endorsed and recommended by his or her high school principal. Each student and a high school official must submit a detailed scholarship application including the student's essay and information about his or her participation and leadership in school and community activities, the release states.

About 15,000 semifinalists will be notified in February that they have been granted status as finalists. Scholarship winners will be selected from this group.