6 Augusta-area high school seniors are National Achievement Scholarship semifinalists

Six black Augusta-area high school seniors have been named semifinalists in the 48th annual National Achievement Scholarship Program, the National Merit Scholarship Corp. announced Wednesday.

The local students are among more than 1,600 seniors designated nationwide. They will compete for about 800 Achievement Scholarship awards worth more than $2.4 million to be offered next spring.

About 80 percent of semifinalists will be named finalists, and more than half of the finalists will win awards.

Local semifinalists are:

• A.R. Johnson Health Science and Engineering Magnet School: Tariq R. Cannonier

• Augusta Preparatory Day School: Schuyler D. Atkins

• John S. Davidson Fine Arts Magnet School: Michael K. McCullen, Danielle N. Rossi and Shannon Young

• Silver Bluff High School: Courtney J. Gantt

More than 160,000 high school juniors last year requested consideration in the 2010 National Achievement Scholarship Program when they took the 2010 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. Semifinalists are designated within geographic regions and are the highest-scoring program entrants in the states that make up each region.

To advance to the finalist level, semifinalists must present a record of high academic performance throughout high school, be endorsed and recommended by their high school principal, write an essay and earn SAT scores that confirm their PSAT performance. In addition, the semifinalist and a high school official must complete a detailed scholarship application providing information about the student’s participation in school and community activities, demonstrated leadership abilities and educational goals.

National Achievement Scholarships are supported by corporations, professional organizations, foundations and the National Merit Scholarship Corp.’s funds. Every finalist will compete for 700 one-time $2,500 National Achievement Scholarships. Corporate and business sponsors will underwrite about 100 Achievement Scholarship awards for finalists who meet criteria set by the grantor. Although some corporate-sponsored awards provide a single payment, most are renewable for up to four years of undergraduate study.

14 Augusta-area students are National Merit semifinalists

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