National Merit Scholarship semifinalists named

Nationwide pool includes more than 70 Palo Alto students

Sixteen thousand semifinalists for this year's National Merit Scholarship Program have been announced, with dozens from local high schools qualifying.

The pool of local semifinalists includes 12 seniors from Castilleja School, 36 from Gunn High School, three from Kehillah Jewish High School and 25 from Palo Alto High School. (See a full list of the students below.)

These students are in the running for 7,600 scholarships worth about $33 million that will be offered next spring. They were selected from about 1.4 million students from more than 22,000 high schools across the country who entered the competition by taking the 2013 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT), which functions as an initial screen for program entrants.

The national pool of approximately 16,000 semifinalists represents less than one percent of U.S. high school seniors and 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, a semifinalist and his or her high school must submit a detailed scholarship application, in which they provide information about the semifinalist's academic record, participation in school and community activities, demonstrated leadership abilities, employment and honors and awards received. A semifinalist must have established an outstanding academic record throughout high school, be endorsed and recommended by a high school official, write an essay and earn SAT scores that confirm his or her performance on the earlier qualifying test.

About 15,000 of the semifinalists will be notified in February if they have advanced to the finalist level. All winners will be selected from this group, competing for three types of scholarships: One of 2,500 National Merit awards worth $2,500 that will be awarded on a state-representational basis; about 1,000 corporate-sponsored awards; and about 4,100 college-sponsored awards for finalists who will attend the sponsor school.

The 2015 scholarship winners will be announced in four press releases, beginning with the corporate scholarships in April and continuing through July. They will join more than 308,000 Merit Scholars.

For more information, go to

Below are lists of semifinalists from local high schools:

Castilleja School

Abigail L. Alter

Kelsey L. Auyeung

Kris L. Auyeung

Cameron M. Hill

Austin N. Jacobs

Danielle R. Jacobsen

Heidi E. Katter

Hannah M. Knowles

Kriti Lall

Jolena Ma

Victoria Pu

Tammy Qiu

Gunn High School

Andrew L. Aday

Emily L. Aiken

Rachel M. Alexander

Dakota Baker

Ansel Blume

Dan G. Cascaval

Elizabeth F. Chang-Davidson

Amy S. Chi

Iris M. Chin

Luke Chui

Lara E. Elcavage

Daniel Frozenfar

Gemma K. Guo

Romain L. Hardy

Hugo A. Jenkins

Joy Q. Jin

Minku Lee

Jessica A. Luo

Alexander K. Matthys

Varun Narayan

Kushal Nimkar

Michael Z. Qu

Aren M. Raisinghani

Maya Ram

Christopher W. Scarborough

Jessica R. Sheng

John Shi

Arthur N. Silverstein

Vicky L. Sun

Klaire Tan

Alex P. Wong

Rachel W. Wu

Danielle Yacobson

Ray Yan

Vivien Zhang

David Zhu

Kehillah Jewish High School

Mariana E. Briskin

Jacob Kaplan-Lipkin

Alexander F. Schlesinger

Palo Alto High School

Seth P. Alston

Richard R. Cao

Gary Chen

Zhonghao Chen

Elizabeth M. Chun

Christopher H. Hinstorff

Kevin Huang

Margaret Li

Matthew Li

Raymond S. Li

Luke Liao

Alexander Y. Lu

Eric J. Lu

Jasper P. McEvoy

Rowan McEvoy

Paul Mewes

Christian T. Miley

Tara M. Mirmira

Dan Su

Wilson Wang

Winston T. Wang

Wesley Woo

Jessica Wu

Michelle Y. Xie

Hannah Zhang

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