NEWS: FS Earns 14 National Merit Semifinalists, Tied for Most in Kansas

Tied with Blue Valley North, 14 Free State seniors have been recognized as National Merit Scholarship Semifinalists.


Lilly Wall

Earlier this month, 14 seniors at Free State were identified as semifinalists for the National Merit Scholarship Program. This astounding achievement recognizes some of the top academically talented students in the country. 

Out of all public and private high school enrolled seniors, only 16,000 are named semifinalists based on their Preliminary SAT (PSAT) score. The following seniors were named:  Andrew Bellemere, Arthur Benson, Jake Chun, Spencer Doan, Ethan Elam, Raina Fair, May Gao, Joel Harrison, Casey Kong, Emma Liu, Jackson Roberts, Steven Tao, Grace Xie, and Keaton Xu.

These students represent the top one percent of high school seniors nationwide who participated in the PSAT.

These 14 seniors were all notified during school when they were pulled out of class and brought into the Flex Space to receive their envelope, informing them of the award. For senior Emma Liu, this accomplishment was a great recognition of her hard work.

“I was really excited because it is a really big thing and was an acknowledgement of how much work I had put into studying,” Liu said.

In addition to the students being notified and congratulated by staff members at school, their accomplishment is recognized on a national level and will be included in their college transcripts.

In order to be eligible for a finalist position, these students must submit a scholarship application including references, academic records, employment, school involvement, and more. 

Out of the 16,000 semifinalists, approximately 15,000 of them will receive the finalist title. If you are chosen as a finalist, there are three different scholarships offered: a cash scholarship of $2,500, corporate-sponsored scholarship, and college-sponsored scholarship. 

The students’ will submit their full application to the school by Oct. 1 before it is sent off to committee teams to analyze and evaluate each application. They will begin to notify finalists in March 2023. 

Although not all semifinalists will become finalists, senior Arthur Benson believes the impressive recognition will aid aspects of his college career.

“It definitely stands out in a resume,” Benson said. “When I go to college I’ll get about $1,000 a year from it, which is definitely a big part of tuition.”