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Graves High senior Elliott named National Merit Semifinalist

            Graves County High School senior C.J. Elliott has been named a National Merit Scholarship Semifinalist. The son of Jeanna Elliott plans to pursue a degree at the University of Kentucky in either chemical engineering or computer engineering.

            Officials of the National Merit Scholarship Corp. announced the names of approximately 16,000 Semifinalists in the 57th annual national Merit Scholarship Program. These academicalC. J. Elliottly talented high school seniors have an opportunity to continue in the competition for some 8,300 National Merit Scholarships worth more than $34 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 90 percent of the Semifinalists are expected to attain Finalist standing, and more than half of the Finalists will win a National Merit Scholarship, earning the Merit Scholar title.

            NMSC, a not-for-profit organizational that operates without government assistance, was established in 1955 specifically to conduct the annual National Merit Scholarship Program. Scholarships are underwritten by NMSC with its own funds and by approximately 440 business organizations and higher education institutions that share NMSC’s goals of honoring the nation’s scholastic champions and encouraging the pursuit of academic excellence.

            About 1.5 million juniors in some 22,000 high schools entered the 2012 National Merit Scholarship Program by taking the 2010 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test, which served as an initial screen of program entrants. The nationwide pool of Semifinalists, which represents less than 1 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, a Semifinalist must have an outstanding academic record throughout high school, be endorsed and recommended by the high school principal, and earn SAT scores that confirm the student’s earlier performance on the qualifying test. The Semifinalist and a high school official must submit a detailed scholarship application, which includes the student’s essay and information about the Semifinalist’s participation and leadership in school and community activities.

            From the approximately 16,000 Semifinalists, about 15,000 are expected to advance to the Finalist level, and in February they will be notified of this designation. All National Merit Scholarship winners will be selected from this Finalist group. Merit Scholar designees are selected on the basis of their skills, accomplishments, and potential for success in rigorous college studies, without regard to gender, race, ethnic origin, or religious preference.

            Three types of National Merit Scholarships will be offered in the spring of 2012. Every Finalist will compete for one of 2,500 National Merit $2,500 Scholarships that will be awarded on a state representational basis. About 1,000 corporate-sponsored Merit Scholarship awards will be provided by approximately 240 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 200 colleges and universities are expected to finance some 4,800 college-sponsored Merit Scholarship awards for Finalists who will attend the sponsor institution.

            National Merit Scholarship winners of 2012 will be announced in four nationwide news releases beginning in April and concluding in July. These scholarship recipients will join more than 283,000 other distinguished young people who have earned the Merit Scholar title.


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