CHARLESTON, W.Va. – A dozen West Virginia public school students have been named distinguished high school seniors and each awarded $2,500 National Merit Scholarships. The 2009 winners were chosen from about 15,000 students, who were named semifinalists, less than one percent of U.S. high school seniors.
Winners are Mark A. Pullins, Bluefield High School, Mercer County; Eric M. Yurko, Bridgeport High, Harrison; Emily M. Boggs, Sandeep K. Patnaik, George Washington High, Kanawha; David A. Ciarolla, Fairmont Senior High, Marion; Samuel J. Shideler, Huntington High, Cabell; Melinda G. Race, Keyser High, Mineral; Elizabeth M. Scott, Greenbrier East High, Greenbrier; Sara Kurian, Jacqueline Trumbull, Katie E. Yorick, Morgantown High, Monongalia; and William C. Maiden, St. Marys High, Pleasants.
To be considered a semifinalist, students must fulfill several requirements and advance to the finalist level of the competition. Nearly 90 percent of the semifinalists advance to the finalist round, with approximately half of the finalists selected as Merit Scholarship winners.
To become a finalist, a semifinalist must have an outstanding academic record throughout high school, be endorsed and recommended by the school principal and earn SAT scores that confirm the student’s earlier qualifying test performance. The student, along with a school official, must submit a detailed scholarship application that includes the student’s self-descriptive essay and information about his/her participation and leadership in school and community activities.
Students enter the competition by taking the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT), which serves as a screen of program entrants. The pool of semifinalists includes the highest scoring entrants in each state. The number of semifinalists in a state is proportional to the state’s percentage of national total of graduating seniors.
For more information about the National Merit Scholarship Program, visit www.nationalmerit.org, or contact the West Virginia Department of Education’s Office of Communications at (304) 558-2699.