Two Maui students are National Merit semifinalists

The Maui News

Two Maui students are among the less than 1 percentile of U.S. high school seniors in the nation to qualify as semifinalists for the 2020 National Merit Scholarship Program.

Ava Merrill of Lahaina’s Maui Preparatory Academy and Ameera C. Waterford of Seabury Hall were announced today as two of about 16,000 semifinalists in the 65th annual program.

The seniors may choose to continue competing for thousands of program scholarships worth more than $31 million that will be offered this spring. Finalists are selected based on an array of submission requirements, such as academic record, leadership abilities, an essay, SAT or ACT scores that confirm earlier performance, a recommendation letter and other qualifications.

More than 90 percent of semifinalists typically attain finalist standing and about half of the finalists win a scholarship, earning the “Merit Scholar” title, a news release said.

More than 1.5 million juniors in about 21,000 high schools entered the 2020 scholarship competition by taking the 2018 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. The initial screening yields the highest-scoring students in each state; the number of semifinalists is proportional to the state’s percentage of the national total of graduating seniors.

Hawaii has about 100 semifinalists, with a handful from the Neighbor Islands, the announcement said.


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