Eastside High School has eleven students who qualified for National Merit semifinalist status based off of their high test scores. (Image courtesy of Alachua County Public Schools)

Alachua County schools sets new record with 45 National Merit semifinalists


Alachua County Public Schools set a district record of semifinalists in the 2023 National Merit Scholarship program with 45 students receiving semifinalist status. 

The National Merit Scholarship Program is a competition for high school students to earn thousands of dollars in scholarship money, and it is recognized as an indicator of academic talent.

Students are eligible to compete in the program by taking the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT). The standardized test mimics the SAT, and it tests students on their math, reading and writing skills.

The PSAT is scored between 320 and 1520, and students are selected on a selection index score based on their state to ensure the award is given to the highest scoring students in the state. In 2022, Florida’s minimum selection index score to earn semifinalist status was a 217, meaning students could score no lower than a 1410 on the test. 

Only 16,000 of the 1.5 million test takers receive National Merit semifinalist status, and they represent less than one percent of high school seniors in the nation.

“We’re very proud that so many of our students have been recognized this year,” Alachua County Superintendent Shane Andrew said. “It’s a tribute to their hard work and commitment to academic achievement, and to the support of their teachers and families.”

Of the district’s 45 semifinalists, 26 are from Buchholz High School, 11 are from Eastside High School and eight are from Gainesville High School.

Now, the students have the opportunity to earn finalist status in the program, and they will have to submit teacher recommendations, additional awards and honors earned, applications highlighting academic achievements and an essay.

Over 15,000 semifinalists are notified in February that they have advanced to finalists.

The Alachua County Public Schools National Merit semifinalists are:

  • Buchholz High School: Himal Bamzai-Wokhlu, Avery Bernstein, Hannah Ciupe, Samuel Cohen, Nicholas Dang, Rishi Gadikota, Angela Gao, Tyler Holland, Nia Jobson, Ahan Mishra, Andrey Nikitin, Aditya Vardhan Pasumarti, Abhinav Pothuri, Nicole Qian, McKayla Ro, Maximilian Schentrup, Tucker Shea, Anwyn Tanner, Isabelle Tseng, Zachary Urbine, Sophia Vernon, Zach Xiao, William Xu, Carolynn Zhao, Jonathan Zheng, Kevin Zheng
  • Eastside High School: Maryanne Armstrong, Rebekah George, Jakob Gorham, Claire Kuntz, Elizabeth Matthias, Linda Mentz, Maya O’Dell, Hirbod Sargeran, Maui Schwartz, Maggie Yan, Benjamin Zou
  • Gainesville High School: Harold Bishop, Jacob Calloway, Cormac Davis, Michelle Han, Nicholas Hirsch, Siya Patel, Jake Qiu, Charles Ye

About Grace Banahan

Grace is a reporter for WUFT News who can be reached by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.

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