MANCHESTER — Three students from the same Queen City high school join thousands of their peers across the country selected as semifinalists in the 65th annual National Merit Scholarship Program.
Lela Connors, Matthew Coughlin and Brian Truong — all students at Manchester Memorial High School — are among the approximately 16,000 students announced last week as semifinalists by officials with the National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC).
The trio now has an opportunity to continue in the competition for some 7,600 National Merit Scholarships, worth more than $31 million, to be offered this spring.
Over 1.5 million juniors in about 21,000 high schools entered the 2020 National Merit Scholarship Program by taking the 2018 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test, which serves as an initial screening of program entrants. The nationwide pool of semifinalists, representing less than 1% 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, including 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.
Of the semifinalists, about 15,000 are expected to advance to the finalist level in February. All National Merit Scholarship winners will be selected from this group of finalists. The winners are selected on the basis of their skills, accomplishments, and potential for success in rigorous college studies, without regard to gender, race or religious preference.
The 2020 National Merit Scholarship winners will be announced in four nationwide news releases from April through July. These scholarship recipients will join more than 345,000 other distinguished young people who have earned the Merit Scholar title.
Manchester Memorial’s Trevor Adams was also recognized as a Commended Student in the 2020 program.