Eight local students are among about 16,000 semifinalists announced today, Sept. 11, in the 65th annual National Merit Scholarship Program.

Four are from Maryville High School: Erin Gardner, Jacob A. Robertson, Mason Stott and Megan E. Underwood.

Two attend William Blount High School: Jordan C. Godfrey and Marya A. Joyce.

Jacob E. Powell of Heritage High School and William H. Carr of Seymour High School also are among the semifinalists announced by the National Merit Scholarship Corp.

The seniors have an opportunity to continue in the competition for some 7,600 National Merit Scholarships worth more than $31 million that will be offered next spring.

More than 90% 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.

Scholarships are underwritten by NMSC with its own funds and by approximately 400 business organizations and higher education institutions that share NMSC’s goals of honoring the nation’s scholastic champions and encouraging the pursuit of academic excellence.

More than 1.5 million juniors in about 21,000 high schools entered the 2020 National Merit Scholarship Program by taking the 2018 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test.

The semifinalists, less than 1% of U.S. high school seniors, include 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.

Merit Scholar designees are selected on the basis of their skills, accomplishments and potential for success in rigorous college studies.

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