Creekview graduation caps

In this May photo, Creekview High School graduates watch their classmates walk the stage at the school’s commencement ceremony.

Nine seniors from Cherokee County high schools have been named semifinalists for the National Merit Scholarship, the scholarship program announced Wednesday.

In all, there are about 16,000 semifinalists in the 67th annual National Merit Scholarship Program. These students have an opportunity to continue in the competition for about 7,500 National Merit Scholarships worth nearly $30 million that will be offered next spring.

About 95 percent of the semifinalists are expected to attain finalist standing, and approximately half of the finalists will win a National Merit Scholarship, earning the Merit Scholar title.

Seven of the semifinalists are from Cherokee County School District high schools:

Creekview High School♦ Justin Bolsen

♦ Callahan Pace

♦ Benjamin Webster

Sequoyah High School♦ Riley Hartman

♦ Wesley Lanter

River Ridge High School♦ Rachel Kim

Woodstock High School♦ Leo Blatnik

“Congratulations to these outstanding students for earning this significant academic achievement,” Superintendent Brian Hightower said in a statement. “I know it took years of hard work and dedication to reach this level, and that your families, teachers and schools join me in celebrating you. We’re all incredibly proud of your accomplishments and look forward to seeing you advance in this competition, in your education and your many future successes.”

Two semifinalists are from private schools in the county:

King’s Academy♦ Chandler Payne

Lyndon Academy♦ Daniel Lamprea

High school juniors entered the 2022 National Merit Scholarship Program by taking the 2020 Preliminary SAT, the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. Nationally, the semifinalists represent less than 1% of U.S. high school seniors.

To become a finalist, the semifinalist and a high school official 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 an outstanding academic record throughout high school, be endorsed and recommended by a high school official, write an essay, and earn SAT or ACT scores that confirm the student’s earlier performance on the PSAT.

National Merit will announce 15,000 finalists, who will compete for 7,500 scholarships worth about $30 million to be awarded in the spring.

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