Two Charles County Seniors Named National Merit Scholarship Semifinalists

LA PLATA, Md.—The National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) recently named Gavin Reen, a senior at La Plata High School, and Mary Fletcher, a senior from Westlake High School, semifinalists in the National Merit Scholarship Program.

Reen and Fletcher were chosen as semifinalists out of more than 1.5 million students who entered the 2009 National Merit Program. Students are considered for the program when they take the 2008 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMST) as high school juniors.

Both Reen and Fletcher, along with 16,000 other semifinalists, have the opportunity to advance to the finalist level and compete for one of 8,200 National Merit Scholarships, worth more than $35 million, that will be offered next spring.

To become a finalist, semifinalists must have an outstanding academic record throughout high school, be endorsed and recommended by their high school principal, and earn SAT scores that confirm the student's earlier performance on the qualifying test. Semifinalists must also submit a detailed scholarship application, which includes a self-descriptive student essay and information about the semi-finalists participation in leadership and community activities.

Three types of National Merit scholarship awards will be offered in spring 2009. Finalists compete for one of 2,500 National Merit $2,500 Scholarships will be awarded on a state representational basis. About 1,100 corporate-sponsored scholarships will be provided by corporations and businesses for those finalists that meet specific criteria. Additionally, more than 200 colleges and universities finance about 4,600 college-sponsored Merit Scholarship awards for finalists who attend the sponsor institution.

Reen plans to study pre-law, psychology, history or political science and has applied to Harvard University, Yale University, Brown University, the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Maryland, College Park.

Fletcher plans to study mathematical science or computer science and has not yet decided where she will attend college.

Merit Scholar designees are selected on the basis of their skills, accomplishments and potential for success in rigorous college studies. National Merit Scholarship winners of 2009 will be announced in four nationwide news releases beginning in April and concluding in July.

The NMSC is a non-profit organization that was established in 1955 to conduct the annual National Merit Program. Scholarships awarded through the program are underwritten by NMSC's funds and more than 500 business organizations and other educational institutions with the goal of honoring the nation's scholastic students and the pursuit of academic excellence.

Source: Charles County Public School System

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