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DHS Senior Wins National Merit Scholarship

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DHS Senior Wins National Merit Scholarship
Posted on 05/13/2021
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Aidan Blum Levine, a senior at Deering High School, has won a $2,500 National Merit Scholarship. Aidan, who is planning on a career in materials engineering, is one of just 11 Maine students selected as $2,500 National Merit Scholarship winners this year. The students are among 2,500 such Merit Scholars chosen from a nationwide talent pool of about 16,000 outstanding Finalists in the 2021 National Merit Scholarship Program.

“Congratulations to Aidan!” said Superintendent Xavier Botana. “This is a well-deserved recognition of this exemplary student. We are very proud of him and also want to credit his teachers and others, including family, for supporting him in his achievements. We look forward to hearing about Aidan’s further accomplishments in college and beyond.”

National Merit $2,500 Scholarship winners are the Finalists in each state judged to have the strongest combination of accomplishments, skills, and potential for success in rigorous college studies. The number of winners named in each state is proportional to the state’s percentage of the nation’s graduating high school seniors.

These Scholars were selected by a committee of college admissions officers and high school counselors, who appraised a substantial amount of information submitted by both the Finalists and their high schools: the academic record, including difficulty level of subjects studied and grades earned; scores from the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT); contributions and leadership in school and community activities; an essay written by the Finalist; and a written recommendation from a high school official.

The 2021 National Merit Scholarship Program began in October 2019, when more than 1.5 million juniors in more than 21,000 high schools took the PSAT/NMSQT, which served as an initial screen of program entrants. Last fall, the highest-scoring participants in each state, representing less than one percent of the nation’s high school seniors, were named Semifinalists on a state-representational basis. Only these approximately 17,000 Semifinalists had an opportunity to continue in the competition.

From the Semifinalist group, some 16,000 students met the very high academic standards and other requirements to advance to the Finalist level of the competition.

This is the second announcement of winners in the 2021 National Merit Scholarship Program. In April, recipients of corporate-sponsored Merit Scholarship awards were named, and on June 2 and July 12, some 4,000 college-sponsored Merit Scholarship winners will be announced. By the conclusion of this year’s competition, about 7,500 academic champions will have won National Merit Scholarships worth approximately $30 million.

The National Merit Scholarship Corp. (NMSC) is a nonprofit that operates without government assistance. The majority of scholarships offered each year are underwritten by approximately 400 independent corporate and college sponsors that share NMSC’s goals of honoring scholastically talented youth and encouraging academic excellence at all levels of education.

NMSC finances most of the single-payment National Merit $2,500 Scholarships. Corporations and company foundations that sponsor awards through NMSC also help underwrite these scholarships with grants they provide in lieu of paying administrative fees. Scholars may use their awards at any regionally accredited U.S. college or university.

The Portland Public Schools is Maine’s largest school district, with 6,500 students, and is also the most diverse. About one-third of the district’s students come from homes where languages other than English are spoken—a total of more than 60 languages. 52 percent of the district’s students are white and 48 percent are students of color. Approximately half of PPS students qualify for free or reduced school meals.