39 ACPS high school students named National Merit finalists

Press release from Alachua County Public Schools

Thirty-nine Alachua County Public School students have been notified that they are finalists in the prestigious National Merit Scholarship Program, which each year recognizes the nation’s top-achieving high school students.

That number of finalists is the second-highest in the district’s history, topped only by the forty students recognized as finalists in 2009. Earning finalist status has long been recognized as an indicator of high academic achievement.

There are a number of standards students must achieve to become National Merit Finalists, including earning semifinalist status. To qualify as semifinalists, students must earn among the nation’s highest scores on the Preliminary SAT/National Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT), which is taken by more than 1.5 million students annually and measures a student’s critical reading, math problem-solving, and writing abilities. About 16,000 students are named semifinalists each year.

To become finalists, students must earn high scores on the SAT. They must also submit applications highlighting their other academic achievements, awards and honors, and leadership activities within their school and community. Teacher recommendations and an essay are also required.

Nineteen students at Buchholz High School have been named finalists, with ten each at Gainesville High and Eastside High.

National Merit finalists are all eligible for thousands of dollars in scholarships provided by businesses, colleges and universities, and other organizations.

This year’s finalists are: Buchholz High School–Anjana Balachandar, Angela Chen, Eric Diao, Michael Fahn, Rena Feng, Guarav Gajavelli, Christopher Han, Kevin He, Jacob Islam, Edward Jeong, Erick Jiang, Devika Kumar, Timmy Li, Aidan Linebarger, Angela Lou, John Sin, Jeffrey Xue, Albert Yang and Xiya Zhou; Eastside High School–Hyungjun Choi, Avery Colon, Richard Jiang, Vedant Karalkar, Ronan Morris, Rachel Parks, Atharva Pathak, Ahmik Paul, Sukhman Sidhu and William Wang; Gainesville High School–Aidan Bloch, Grant Gravlee, Janani Kumaran, Nicholas Lloyd, Eleanor Parks-Church, Gayathry Prabhakaran, Robert Ryan, Katherine Sammy, Holly Snow and Rachel Young.