Columbia home to 18 National Merit semifinalists this year

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Eighteen Columbia high school students have been announced as National Merit semifinalists.

The high school seniors come from Battle, Hickman and Rock Bridge high school,s Father Tolton Catholic High School, and one home-schooled student.

The students will now compete alongside 16,000 semifinalists across the country for scholarships totaling more than $31 million from the National Merit Scholarship Program.

"We're excited because Hickman has always been about academic excellence," said Hickman High School principal Tony Gragnani of seven Hickman students on the list.

Over 1.6 million high school juniors from 22,000 high schools around the country entered when they took the Preliminary SAT in 2017.

The National Merit Scholarship Corp. was established in 1955 as a not-for-profit organization and has provided scholarships annually for the nation's most academically accomplished. The semifinalists are the highest scoring entrants in the state and represent less than 1 percent of high school seniors in the U.S.

Rock Bridge High School principal Jennifer Rukstad , home to eight semifinalists, gives credit to the students: "It's an opportunity for the students to get recognized for their work."

To become a finalist, a semifinalist must have an outstanding academic record, an endorsement from a high school official, write an essay and receive SAT scores that confirm their previous performance from the qualifying test.

15,000 students are anticipated to advance to the Finalist level and will be notified in February if they have reached this accomplishment.

BATTLE HIGH SCHOOL: Adam S. Lake

HICKMAN HIGH SCHOOL: Rachel M. Edidin , Benjamin D. Lewandowski , Katherine R. Neff , Guthrie L. Stroh , Teresa S. Tang , Aileen Xu and Erika J. Zhou

HOMESCHOOL: Benjamin S. Scott

ROCK BRIDGE HIGH SCHOOL: Kavin Anand , Riley K. Jones Joseph Koo , Emily C. Ma, Kathleen L. Meininger , Louise Schul, Wendy Yan and Jia L. Zhuang

FATHER TOLTON CATHOLIC HIGH SCHOOL: Nicholas A. Slusher

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