Nearly 200 high school seniors across Long Island were named semifinalists earlier this month in the 2013 National Merit Scholarship Program, which honors students of exceptional academic ability and promise of success in rigorous college studies.
They are among about 16,000 high school seniors nationwide to achieve this distinction -- less than 1 percent of high school seniors.
The national semifinalists represent less than one-third of the 50,000 highest scorers on the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT). That test was given to about 1.5 million of the students in October 2011, when they were high school juniors.
In Nassau County, the Jericho and Syosset school districts led the way with 18 semifinalists each, while Great Neck and Herricks followed with 12 and 10, respectively. Other districts with semifinalists were Baldwin, Bellmore-Merrick, East Meadow, East Williston, Farmingdale, Garden City, Hewlett, Island Trees, Lawrence, Levittown, Locust Valley, Long Beach, Manhasset, Massapequa, Mineola, Oceanside, Plainview-Old Bethpage, Port Washington, Rockville Centre, Roslyn, Sewanhaka and Valley Stream.
Other county schools with semifinalists were Hebrew Academy of the Five Towns and Rockaway, North Shore Hebrew Academy, Sacred Heart Academy in Hempstead, Stella K. Abraham High School in Hewlett Bay Park, Rambam Mesivta High School in Lawrence, Friends Academy in Locust Valley, Chaminade High School in Mineola, Our Lady of Mercy Academy in Syosset, Shalhevet High School for Girls in Valley Stream, Davis Renov Stahler Halb School in Woodmere and Lawrence Woodmere Academy. A home-schooled pupil in Bellmore also was named a semifinalist.
In Suffolk County, the Half Hollow Hills school district in Dix Hills and the Three Village school district in East Setauket led the way with 16 and 13 semifinalists, respectively. Other districts with semifinalists were Bay Shore, Cold Spring Harbor, Commack, Comsewogue, Harborfields, Huntington, Kings Park, Miller Place, Northport, Port Jefferson, Sayville, Smithtown and Westhampton Beach.
St. Anthony's High School in South Huntington had two semifinalists. Two home-schooled students, in Mount Sinai and Shoreham, also were named semifinalists.
To become a finalist, semifinalists now submit to the National Merit Scholarship Corp. a detailed application that includes their academic records, information about their achievements and activities, recommendations from a high school official, SAT scores and a personal essay. In February, they learn if they are among 15,000 National Merit Finalists.
National Merit Scholars are chosen from that group and are awarded some 8,300 National Merit scholarships, worth more than $32 million, next spring and summer.
Three types of National Merit Scholarships are awarded:
-- Every finalist competes for one of 2,500 scholarships given by the National Merit Scholarship Corp. Each scholarship is for $2,500.
-- Some 1,000 corporate-sponsored awards will be given by about 240 corporations and business organizations to finalists who meet specified criteria, such as being the child of an employee of the sponsoring organization.
-- About 200 colleges and universities are expected to give 4,800 college-sponsored awards to finalists who will attend the sponsor institution.
The National Merit Scholarship Corp., based in Evanston, Ill., is a not-for-profit organization created in 1955 to conduct the scholarship program. Its awards are underwritten with its own funds and those of about 440 business organizations and institutions of higher learning. It does not receive government assistance.