Four Putnam County students receive top academic honors

March 9, 2019
Courtesy of Putnam County Schools Putnam County Schools' 2019 National Merit Finalists Kenny Powell, Ellie James and Aaron Withrow are from Winfield High School.

WINFIELD — Four Putnam County Schools’ students have been named finalists in the 64th annual National Merit Scholarship Program.

Congratulations to Putnam County Schools’ 2019 National Merit Finalists Kenny Powell (Winfield High School), Ellie James (Winfield High School), Aaron Withrow (Winfield High School), and Ashlyn Pechon (Hurricane High School).

The National Merit Scholarship Program is an academic competition for recognition and scholarships that began in 1955. High school students enter the National Merit Program by taking the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT) - which serves as an initial screen of approximately 1.6 million entrants each year and by meeting published program entry and participation requirements.

To become a National Merit Finalist, the Semifinalist and his or her high school must submit a detailed scholarship application, in which they provide information about the Semifinalist’s academic record, participation in school and community activities, demonstrated leadership abilities, employment, and honors and awards received. A Semifinalist must have an outstanding academic record throughout high school, be endorsed and recommended by a high school official, write an essay, and earn SAT scores that confirm the student’s earlier performance on the qualifying test.

From the approximately 16,000 Semifinalists, about 15,000 are expected to advance to the Finalist level. All National Merit Scholarship winners are selected from this group of Finalists. Merit Scholar designees will be 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.

There are three types of National Merit Scholarships offered in the spring of 2019. Every Finalist will compete for one of 2,500 National Merit $2,500 Scholarships that are awarded on a state representational basis. Approximately 230 corporations and business organizations will provide about 1,000 corporate-sponsored Merit Scholarship awards for Finalists who meet their specified criteria. Also, about 180 colleges and universities are expected to finance some 4,000 college-sponsored Merit Scholarship awards for Finalists who will attend the sponsor institution.

National Merit Scholarship winners of 2019 will be announced in four nationwide news releases beginning in April and concluding in July. These scholarship recipients will join some 338,000 other distinguished young people who have earned the Merit Scholar title.