Several Andover teens have been named as semifinalists in this year's National Merit Scholarship Program. The group, including four Andover High School students, are among the 16,000 teens from across the country in competition for more than $36 million in college scholarships. Twenty nine students from Phillips Academy were named, including four who are Andover residents.

Each of the semifinalists scored within the top 1 percent of all juniors taking the PSAT. Semifinalists are named from the highest scores in each U.S. state.

To become a finalist, a student must have an outstanding academic record throughout high school, display leadership in community and school activities, be endorsed and recommended by the high school principal and earn top SAT scores.

These academically talented high school seniors have an opportunity to continue in the competition for some 8,200 Merit Scholarship awards that will be offered next spring, according to a release from Andover High School.

To be considered for a merit scholarship award, semifinalists must advance to the finalist level of the competition by fulfilling several requirements. Finalist selection is based on academic performance, SAT scores, a student essay, and school recommendation.

About 90 percent of the semifinalists are expected to attain finalist standing, and approximately half of the finalists will be selected as merit scholarship winners, earning the merit scholar title.

In addition, 18 Andover High School seniors have been named commended students in the 2010 National Merit Scholarship Program: Noah Besen, Kevin Dipasquale, Ross Esdale, Sean Gibson, Conan Huang, Iha Kaul, Madhukar Kumar, Irena Kushner, Brenda Li, Clare Ma, Abraham Oh, Erin O'Kelly, Connor O'Neill, Jennifer Quirnbach, Zachary Silberman, Emily Stidsen, Molly Van Doren, Laura Van Drie.

Some 34,000 commended students throughout the nation are being honored for their exceptional academic promise.

Although they will not continue in the 2010 competition for Merit Scholarship awards to be offered next spring, commended students placed among the top 5 percent of more than 1.5 million students who entered the 2010 competition by taking the 2008 preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test.

The Illinois-based National Merit Scholarship Program is a not-for-profit organization established in 1955.

Andover 2010 National Merit Semifinalists are:


George T. Cheng

Noah A. Kurinsky

Sharada R. Sant

Aaron Yang


Zahra S. Bhaiwala

Krishnan V. Chandra

Julie C. Helmers

Ryan M. McKinnon

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