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The Student News Site of Jupiter Community High School

War Cry

The Student News Site of Jupiter Community High School

War Cry

The Student News Site of Jupiter Community High School

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Jupiter High students qualify as National Merit Scholarship Semifinalists

Chase Baxter
National Merit Scholarship qualifiers pose on campus at Jupiter High School. Pictured Left to Right: Connor Johnston, Jonathon Rusczyk, Shoichiro Terazawa, Aden Vargas, Lucas Groves

Jupiter High School seniors Lucas Groves, Connor Johnston, Jonathan Rusczyk, Shoichiro Terazawa and Aden Vargas were selected as the 2024 National Merit Scholarship Semifinalists in the 69th annual National Merit Scholarship Program.

High school juniors can enter the National Merit Scholarship Program by taking the Preliminary SAT/ National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT). In Fla., to be qualified for the scholarship, juniors need to score in the state’s top one percent, translating to a selection index score of 216. The selection index is calculated by adding the student’s math, writing and reading scores and multiplying it by two.

“I was surprised [to have qualified] because I didn’t think I did well [on the PSAT/NMSQT] in the first place,” Vargas said. “I had to rush on certain questions and even when I got my score I still wasn’t sure I would qualify for the scholarship.”

Qualifying for this prestigious title sets students apart on their college applications. Colleges distinguish the number of National Merit Scholars in their incoming freshmen class. 

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“While I previously thought that I would qualify as a semifinalist based on my PSAT score and predicted cutoff level, I liked hearing congratulations from my friends and family after the semifinalists were announced,” Groves said.

Semifinalists must meet the following requirements to be considered as National Merit Finalists: recommended by their high school’s principal, maintained a record of high academic performance throughout high school, completed the National Merit Scholarship Application, which includes an essay and earned a score on the SAT or ACT confirming their PSAT/NMSQT performance. 

“By definition it is not a scholarship attainable by the majority of students. National Merit is based on the top one percent of PSAT scores so it’s really just a matter of luck to even qualify,” Johnston said. “On top of that, the small number of semifinalists will get cut down even more before any actual scholarships are awarded.” 

National Merit Scholarship Program offers three scholarships to finalists: National Merit $2500 Scholarship, corporate-sponsored Merit Scholarship awards and college-sponsored Merit Scholarship awards. Each of these help assist students in funding their college education. Special scholarships can be awarded to students who did not qualify as a finalist, but meet a corporate sponsor’s criteria.

“If I was awarded the scholarship, it would give me more financial security throughout college, and, if I got into my first-choice college, becoming a finalist could lessen or even work towards getting rid of any student debt I might get from attending the school,” Groves said. 

In Feb. 2024, semifinalists will be notified whether they advanced in the program. Out of 16,000 semifinalists, 15,000 are expected to become finalists. In the Spring of 2024, scholarship recipients will be selected based on their academic accomplishments, the basis of their skills and their potential success in rigorous college courses. 

“I am both anxious and eager to find out if I qualified as a finalist,” Johnston said. “I also wish the best for the other semifinalists.”

The 2024 National Merit Scholarship winners will be announced April through June on four nationwide press releases.

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