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21 Forsyth County high school seniors named National Merit finalists

FORSYTH COUNTY — All 21 Forsyth County high school seniors who were named semifinalists for the 2016 National Merit Scholarship Program made the cut to advance as finalists.

The program recognizes students who, as juniors, earned the highest scores in their state on the 2014 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test.

About 1.5 million juniors in more than 22,000 high schools entered the program through that initial screening process. The semifinalists represented less than 1 percent of all U.S. high school seniors.

From the about 16,000 semifinalists, about 15,000 were expected to be named finalists.

Fonda Harrison, associate superintendent for teaching and learning for the school system, said she was not surprised all 21 local students made it to the final round.

“These students are well-rounded in their exemplary academic performance and accomplishments, as well as their participation in extracurricular and community service efforts,” she said.

“As a school system, we applaud the work of our students, their parents and teachers in developing young adults who have a promising future.”

Students who made it to the semifinalist level submitted a detailed scholarship application in which they provided information about their academic record and participation in school and community activities, and demonstrated leadership abilities, employment and honors and awards.

They must have had an “outstanding academic record throughout high school,” have been endorsed and recommended by a high school official, have written an essay and have earned SAT scores that confirm their earlier performance on the qualifying test.

Following are the local finalists, according to officials at each school:

* Forsyth Central — James L. Ballard and Alexander G. Grove

* Lambert — Eugene T. Ahn, Ji Baek, Su Baek, Lily B. Ge, Sue B. Kim, Cory W. Larsen, Nina P. Reddy, Julia S. Scher and Deborah W. Song

* South — Bailey A. Becker, Anirudh Bikmal, Savannah D. Carnahan, Jason T. Lieb, Shivani Palanivel, Seri Ryu and Jessica Y. Tang

* West — Charu Thomas

* Pinecrest Academy — Drew A. Bryant and Garrett M. Witt

Three types of scholarships will be offered this spring. Every finalist will compete for one of 2,500 National Merit $2,500 scholarships that will be awarded on a state-representational basis.

Winners will be announced in four nationwide news releases between April and July.