Thousands of high school seniors from across Southern California were named semifinalists this week for the National Merit Scholarship Program, which in its 63rd year will dole out $32 million to 7,500 students in the spring.
About 16,000 students nationwide were named semifinalists. Of those, 15,000 are expected to advance to the final round, the National Merit Scholarship Corporation said in a statement.
The semifinalists were chosen based on their scores on the 2016 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test, which they took as juniors. The semifinalists comprise less than 1 percent of high school seniors in the United States and received the highest scores in their states.
The city of Los Angeles has 30 seniors in the semifinals. Elsewhere in the county, Pasadena has 13 and Whittier has one.
Five friends at the small, tight-knit Los Angeles Center for Enriches Students, part of the L.A. Unified School District, were on the list.
“We were all excited and glad we’ve gotten to this level,” said Murad Avliyakulov, 17. “It’s a good way to get recognition.”
His buddy, Henry Basu, likes taking tests.
“This came along as part of that enjoyment,” Basu said. “I’ve put the most effort I could into it, so it’s gratifying.”
In Orange County, nearly 800 students from 25 cities are now semifinalists.
Irvine has the most students in the semifinalist round, with 109 — 32 of which came from University High School. Fullerton has 47 semifinalists, most from Troy High School, and Santa Ana has 14.
Hannah Park, 17, who attends Woodbridge High in Irvine, said she was surprised when she learned she was a…
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