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Blanchard named semifinalist in Merit Scholarship program

A Detroit Lakes student has been named semifinalist for the 2014 National Merit Scholarship Program.

Senior Beau Blanchard has been named one of 16,000 semifinalists in the 59th annual program. As a senior, he will compete for one of the 8,000 scholarships worth a total of about $35 million next spring.

To be considered for the award, semifinalists must fulfill several requirements to advance to the finalist level of the competition. About 90 percent of the semifinalists are expected to attain finalist standing, and more than half of the finalists will win a National Merit Scholarship.

National Merit Scholarship Corporation, a not-for-profit organization that operates without government assistance, was established in 1955 specifically to conduct the annual National Merit Scholarship Program.

Scholarships are underwritten by NMSC with its own funds and by approximately 440 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.

About 1.5 million juniors in more than 22,000 high schools entered the 2014 National Merit Scholarship Program by taking the 2012 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test, which served as an initial screen of program entrants.

The nationwide pool of semifinalists includes 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.

To become a finalist, the semifinalist and their high school must submit a detailed scholarship application, which includes academic record, participation in activities, leadership, employment and honors and awards. The semifinalist must also write an essay, be recommended by a high school official and earn SAT scores that confirm the student’s earlier performance on the qualifying test.

In February, about 15,000 semifinalists will advance to the finalist round, and will compete for a $2,500 scholarship that will go to 2,500 finalists.

The National Merit Scholarship recipients will then be announced beginning in April and concluding in July.