21 Horry County Schools students named National Merit semifinalists

Grand Strand

HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WBTW) – The National Merit Scholarship Corporation announced the names of 21 Horry County Schools students as Semifinalists, the most students in the District’s history, in the 67th annual National Merit Scholarship Program.

These HCS students are among 16,000 Semifinalists who have an opportunity to compete for 7,500 National Merit Scholarships worth more than $30 million.

HCS National Merit Semifinalists are:

Isabella Aparicio-Morello, Alexander Benz, Reagan McQueen, and Anika Paudel, Scholars Academy and Myrtle Beach High School; John Barnett and Guoren Zhong, Scholars Academy and St. James High School; Evan Barker and Ryan Freudiger, Scholars Academy and Socastee High School; Mia Bailey, Cody King, Hunter Kuperman, Jonathan Mallon, Michael Pikula, Kyla Thomas, Nicole Ward, Derrick Wargo, and Brooke Zavistaski, Scholars Academy and Carolina Forest High School; Luke Bleyer, Academy for the Arts, Science & Technology (AAST) and North Myrtle Beach High School; Tyler Seegars, Academy for the Arts, Science & Technology (AAST) and Conway High School; Garrison H. Gasque, Aynor High School; and Adrian Anderson, St. James High School.

About 95 percent of the Semifinalists are expected to attain Finalist standing, and about half of the Finalists will win a National Merit Scholarship, earning the Merit Scholar title. In about 21,000 high schools, high school juniors entered the 2022 National Merit Scholarship Program by taking the 2020 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT), which served as an initial screen of program entrants. The nationwide pool of Semifinalists, representing 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, the Semifinalist and his or her high school must submit a detailed scholarship application. They provide information about the Semifinalist’s academic record, participation in school and community activities, demonstrated leadership abilities, employment, and honors and awards received. A Semifinalist must have an outstanding academic record throughout high school, be endorsed and recommended by a high school official, write an essay, and earn SAT scores that confirm the student’s earlier performance on the qualifying test.

From the approximately 16,000 Semifinalists, about 15,000 are expected to advance to the Finalist level, and in February, they will be notified of this designation. All National Merit Scholarship winners will be selected from this group of Finalists. Merit Scholar designees are selected based on their skills, accomplishments, and potential for success in rigorous college studies, regardless of gender, race, ethnic origin, or religious preference.

Three types of National Merit Scholarships will be offered in the spring of 2022. Every Finalist will compete for one of 2,500 National Merit $2,500 Scholarships awarded on a state-representational basis. About 1,000 corporate-sponsored Merit Scholarship awards will be provided by as many as 220 corporations and business organizations for Finalists who meet their specified criteria. In addition, about 180 colleges and universities are expected to finance some 4,000 college-sponsored Merit Scholarship awards for Finalists who will attend the sponsor institution. 

National Merit Scholarship winners of 2022 will be announced in four nationwide news releases beginning in April and concluding in July. These scholarship recipients will join some 362,000 other distinguished young people who have earned the Merit Scholar title.

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