Alachua County Public Schools has 41 National Merit Scholarship semifinalists

The Gainesville Sun | By Gershon Harrell | September 16,2021

Alachua County Public Schools announced Wednesday that 41 students — possibly the highest number ever — have been named semifinalists for the prestigious National Merit Scholarship. 

Two additional local students — one homeschooled and the other from Oak Hall — also have been named scholarship semifinalists.

The National Merit Scholarship Corp. released its list of semifinalists on Wednesday. Buchholz High School has the largest number of semifinalists with 21 students. Gainesville High School and Eastside High School both have 10 semifinalists. 

“I think it’s tremendous considering how the last year and nine weeks have been for students,” said Kevin Purvis, principal of Buchholz High. “To still perform at a high level on national exams it’s a testament to their work ethic, to the teachers, and their parents for continuing to push students to excellence.”

The number of local students who have been named a semifinalist is up by 29 students from last year. 

The National Merit Scholarship program is an academic competition that began in 1955. Approximately 1.5 million high school students enter the rigorous program each year. 

To qualify for the scholarship program students had to take the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Test (PSAT/NMST) in 2020. Approximately 16,000 students have been named semifinalists for this year. 

Semifinalists who advance as finalists will have the chance to win a $2,500 in scholarship.

Requirements to move from semifinalist to finalist are that a student must be enrolled in their last year of high school and planning to attend a four-year college in fall 2022; attend high school within the United States; be recommended for the scholarship by their school principal; and have a record of consistent high academic achievement. 

Semifinalists have until Oct. 6 to complete and submit their scholarship application.

Students who are considered semifinalists also must register for the SAT or ACT. 

SAT dates

  • Oct. 2
  • Nov. 6
  • Dec. 4

ACT dates

  • Oct. 23
  • Dec. 11

The National Merit Scholarship Corp. asks that students take the SAT or ACT by November or October. 

According to the website, the NMSC must receive the scores no later than December 31, for full award consideration. 

Finalists will be notified by Feb. 7 and Certificates of Merit will be mailed to students’ high school principals. 

National Merit Scholarship winners will be notified that they have won the $2,500 scholarship by May 11. 

A list of Alachua County Public Schools semifinalists: 

Buchholz High School

  • Anjana Balachandar
  • Angela Chen
  • Eric Diao
  • Michael Fahn
  • Rena Feng
  • Gaurav Gajavelli 
  • Christopher Han
  • Kevin He
  • Jacob Islam
  • Edward Jeong
  • Erick Jiang
  • Devika Kumar
  • Tammy Li
  • Adam Linebarger
  • Angela Lou
  • Dominic Robinson
  • Aditi Shukla
  • John sin
  • Jeffrey Xue
  • Albert Yang
  • Xiya Zhou
Eastside High School has 10 semifinalists for the National Merit Scholarship.

Eastside High

  • Hyungjun Choi
  • Avery Colon
  • Richard Jiang
  • Vedant Karalkar
  • Ronan Morris
  • Rachel Parks
  • Atharva Pathak
  • Ahmik Paul
  • Sukhman Sidhu
  • William Wang
Gainesville High School has 10 semifinalists for the National Merit Scholarship.

Gainesville High

  • Aidan Bloch
  • Grant Gravlee
  • Janani Kumaran
  • Nikolas Lloyd
  • Eleanor Parks-Church
  • Gayathry Prabhakaran
  • Robert Ryan
  • Katherine Sammy
  • Holly Snow
  • Rachel Young


  • Dakota Lawlar

Oak Hall

  • Yedam Park
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