The National Merit Scholarship Corporation announced on Sept. 9 its 2021 list of semifinalist high school students who will compete for a share of 7,600 scholarships worth more than $30 million. Winners of the 66th annual competition will be announced nationally between April and July next year.

High school juniors in about 21,000 high schools in the United States entered the academic competition by taking the 2019 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test.

The highest-scoring students in each state represent the pool of semifinalists who, according to the National Merit Scholarship Corporation, represent less than 1% of United States high school seniors.

The next step for a semifinalist to become a finalist is to complete the required application that includes their academic record, an essay and a letter of recommendation by a high school official.

Finalists are then chosen on the basis of academic record, their participation in community and school activities, how they have demonstrated leadership ability, employment and awards and honors received.

From a group of about 16,000 semifinalists, an expected 15,000 advance to finalists. Students will be notified in February if they are finalists and half of those win a scholarship.

The National Merit Scholarship winners, chosen on the basis of accomplishments, skills and potential for college success, are selected from this last group. Winners are notified, on a rolling basis, from April to July in 2021.

Three types are scholarships are awarded including

  • National Merit $2500 Scholarships (one of 2,500 available)
  • Corporate-sponsored awards (provided by corporations and business organizations for finalists who meet their specified criteria, such as children of the grantor’s employees or residents of communities where sponsor offices or plants are located)
  • College-sponsored scholarships for finalists who will attend the sponsor’s college or university

The following are National Merit semifinalists from Palos Verdes Peninsula schools:


Palos Verdes HS

  • Daniel Belzberg
  • Matthew H. Kang
  • Beom Joon Kim
  • Phillipe S. Wiederkehr


Chadwick School

  • Hannah H. Bogen
  • Marco R. Burstein
  • Lukas R. Harris
  • Rohan A. Joshi
  • Cade M. Vernon
  • Alanna Zhang


Palos Verdes Peninsula HS

  • Jason G. Apostol
  • Kosei S. Chetanna
  • Russell T. Chuang
  • Aksh Garg
  • Amy W. Huang
  • J Calvin Kim
  • Skylar J. Lo
  • Sarah T. Omalley
  • Andrew R. Sinsioco
  • Madison S. Yeh

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