LCHS has 15 National Merit semifinalists

Fifteen La Cañada High School seniors are in the running for one of 8,400 National Merit Scholarships, it was announced Wednesday.

The National Merit Scholarship Program released the names of 16,000 semifinalists who each can potentially earn scholarships of up to $2,500. More than $36 million in scholarships will awarded in 2010, the program's 56th year. The scholars are selected for their skills, accomplishments and potential for success in college.

La Cañada High seniors Louisa Bihuan Chen, Jessie Cho, May Forssen, Teresa Jiang, Charles Kim, Jason Kim, Raymond Ma, Kayla McCue, Andrew Nelson, Edward Pak, Brian Park, Eric Park, Hayden Speck, Antonia Warner and Patrick Yew are all semifinalists for the award.

"I feel like we're at the top of the school and we're all proud," said Charles Kim, adding that "winning the scholarship is an opportunity to put something on a college application that will stand out."

Chen wasn't surprised with how many Spartans were named semifinalists.

"Our school is pretty smart," she said.

By taking the 2009 Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test, about 1.5 million juniors in approximately 22,000 high schools across the country were entered into the competition. The 16,000 semifinalists gradually be reduced to 8,400 scholars.

"This is a great honor and it opens a lot of doors," Ma said. "It's good to know you're at the top when it comes to academics."

To be named a finalist, each student must have an outstanding academic record throughout high school, must receive an endorsement and recommendation from his or her high-school principal, and must earn SAT scores that underscore the student's performance on the qualifying test.

Each student and one of his or her high-school officials must then submit a scholarship application, which includes a student's essay containing information about each student's leadership in their school and community.

Scholarship winners will be announced from April to July 2011.

"I'm definitely striving to be named a finalist," Ma said. "You know if you succeed now, you can succeed later."

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