NEW ROCHELLE, NY -- Five New Rochelle High School seniors have been named semifinalists in the National Merit Scholarship Program, which honors top academic achievement.
Zoey Deutsch, Elijah Pomerantz, Randall St. Louis, Taylan Selman and Andrew Sorota were among approximately 16,000 students across the country named in the 63rd annual competition. The semifinalists represent less than 1 percent of the high school seniors across the country.
"It's an honor to be named," said Pomerantz, who plans to study math in college.
"It's fantastic that these five students have reached this achievement," said Principal Reginald Richardson. "They are all very accomplished students and they have worked hard."
With the designation, the high-achieving seniors may continue in the competition for some 7,500 National Merit Scholarships worth more than $32 million that will be offered next spring. The chance to earn the financial help was a plus for the New Rochelle students.
"I want to go into the healthcare sector," Sorota said. "That's all very costly, so any money that comes from my undergraduate education is very helpful."
The honor also adds another accolade they can include on college applications and resumes. To reach the semifinalist level, the students joined about 1.6 million other juniors in more than 22,000 high schools who took the 2016 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. The highest scoring entrants in each state became the semifinalists.
"It's a competitive edge when applying to more elite programs," said Deutsch, who is considering studying neuroscience.
"I was pretty happy," added Selman, who plans to become an engineer. "It's a pretty cool recognition. It's unlike anything else we've ever won."
"I had a feeling that I would get it, but having it become official is a really good feeling," said St. Louis, who also plans to study engineering.
Semifinalists must fulfill several requirements to advance to the finalist level of the competition. Most of the semifinalists - about 15,000 - are expected to attain finalist standing, and about half of those young scholars will win a National Merit Scholarship, earning the Merit Scholar title.
To become finalists, semifinalists must fulfill several requirements. The student and the school must submit a detailed scholarship application showing the semifinalist's academic record, participation in school and community activities, demonstrated leadership abilities, employment and honors and awards received.
Three types of National Merit Scholarships will be offered in the spring. The finalists will compete for 2,500 National Merit $2,500 Scholarships, which are awarded on a state-representational basis.
About 1,000 corporate-sponsored Merit Scholarship awards will be provided by approximately 230 corporations and business organizations. Also, about 190 colleges and universities are expected to finance some 4,000 college-sponsored Merit Scholarship awards to entice finalists to attend their schools.