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PPS Students Named National Merit Semifinalists

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PPS Students Named National Merit Semifinalists
Posted on 09/15/2021
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Two high school seniors in the Portland Public Schools have been named Semifinalists in the 2022 National Merit Scholarship Program. These academically talented students now have the opportunity to compete for about 7,500 National Merit Scholarships worth nearly $30 million that will be offered next spring.

The two Semifinalists are Portland High School senior Theresa Conroy and Deering High School senior Jove Emmons.

“Congratulations to these outstanding students!” said Superintendent Xavier Botana. “I credit not only Theresa and Jove for their diligence and hard work, but also their teachers and other supporters, including their families, for helping them achieve this highly deserved recognition. These students are exemplars of the high quality education offered at our high schools, and I wish them the best as they continue on in this competition.”

The two students are among 74 Maine seniors named as Semifinalists in the 2022 contest. There are approximately 16,000 Semifinalists nationwide. The nationwide pool of Semifinalists represents less than 1 percent of U.S. high school seniors and includes the highest-scoring entrants in each state. Semifinalists entered the 2022 competition as high school juniors by taking the 2020 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test.

Of the 16,000 Semifinalists, about 15,000 are expected to advance to the Finalist level of the competition. To become Finalists, Semifinalists must have an outstanding academic record throughout high school, be involved in school and community activities, show leadership abilities, be endorsed by a high school official, write an essay, and earn SAT or ACT scores that confirm their earlier performance on the qualifying test. Finalists will be notified of this designation in February.

Of these Finalists, about half will go on to win a National Merit Scholarship and become National Merit Scholars. Merit Scholar designees are selected on the basis of their skills, accomplishments, and potential for success in rigorous college studies, without regard to gender, race, ethnic origin, or religious preference.

Three types of National Merit Scholarships will be offered in the spring of 2022. The National Merit Scholarship winners will be announced in four nationwide news releases beginning in April and ending in July. These scholarship recipients will join more than 362,000 other distinguished young people who have earned the Merit Scholar title.

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-price school meals.