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Iowa City Community School District Announces 2020 National Merit Semifinalists

Officials of National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) have announced the names of approximately 16,000 Semifinalists in the 65th annual National Merit Scholarship Program. The Iowa City Community School District is proud to announce that the following seniors in the District have earned this honor:

City High School: Maryam Abuissa, Joseph Bennett, Ellis Chen, Mira Kumar, Alexis Nunez, Aubryn Kaine, and Charlotte Weigel

Liberty High School: Elizabeth Davis, Razan Karar, Sushma Santhana, Harrison Voigt

West High School: Riley Bridges, Mason Carter, Julien Cook, Dillon Geng, William Gleason, Michael Han, Natalie Katz, Yi-Jen Liao, Ariadne McClure, Alexander Nelson, Ronan Smith, Daniel Song, Thomas Stevens, Farhad Taghizadeh, Sumner Wallace, Joseph Wan, Julian Wemmie, Kenneth Wilbur, Angela Wong, Chen-You Wu, Natalie Young, William Zhang

To be named as National Merit Semifinalists, these seniors scored among the top one percent of students nationwide on the 2018 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT).

City High boasts seven of the District’s Semifinalists. Liberty High School principal, Scott Kibby, has announced that Liberty High has its first Semifinalists being recognized in the 2020 National Merit Scholarship Program in school history. And West High School principal, Gregg Shoultz, has announced that West High leads the state again with 22 Semifinalists. 

These academically talented high school seniors have an opportunity to continue in the competition for some 7,600 Merit Scholarship awards, worth $31 million, that will be offered next spring. To be considered for a Merit Scholarship award, Semifinalists must fulfill several requirements and advance to the Finalist level of the competition.

More than 1.5 million juniors in about 21,000 U.S. high schools entered the 2020 National Merit Program by taking the 2018 PSAT/NMSQT, which served as an initial screen of program entrants. The nationwide pool of Semifinalists, which represents less than one percent 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, a Semifinalist must have an academic record of very high performance, be endorsed and recommended by the school principal, and earn SAT scores that confirm the student's earlier qualifying test performance. The Semifinalist and his/her counselor must submit a detailed application, which includes the student's self-descriptive essay and information about the Semifinalist's participation and leadership in school and community activities. 

Approximately 15,000 of the Semifinalists are expected to advance to the Finalist level and it is from this group that all National Merit Scholarship winners will be chosen. Merit designees are selected on the basis of their skills, accomplishments, and potential for success in rigorous college studies, without regard to gender, race, ethnic origin, or religious preference. 

National Merit Scholarship winners of 2020 will be announced in four nationwide news releases beginning in April and concluding in July. These scholarship recipients will join more than 345,000 other distinguished young people who have earned the Merit Scholar title.

City High National Merit Scholar Semifinalists 2020

City High School (L to R): Mira Kumar, Charlotte Weigel, Ellis Chen, Alexis Nunez, Maryam Abuissa, Aubryn Kaine, and Joseph Bennett.

Liberty High National Merit Scholar Semifinalists 2020

Liberty High School (L to R): Razan Karar, Elizabeth Davis, Harrison Voigt, Sushma Santhana

West High National Merit Scholar Semifinalists 2020

West High School, Front Row (L to R): Mason Carter, Kenneth Wilbur, Chen-You Wu, Daniel Song, Julien Cook, Natalie Katz, Angela Wong, Ariadne McClure, Sumner Wallace, Yi-Jen Liao, Dillon Geng

Back Row (L to R): Ronan Smith, Alexander Nelson, Riley Bridges, Michael Han, Julian Wemmie, William Gleason, William Zhang, Natalie Young, Thomas Stevens, Farhad Taghizadeh, Joseph Wan