With the announcement of the 2011 National Merit Scholarship semifinalists, it came as no surprise that students in the Tempe Union High School District continue to set the bar for districts in Arizona.

The district announced 54 students as semifinalists, who were chosen based on their Preliminary SAT or National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (NMSQT) scores, including 21 students from Desert Vista and four from Mountain Pointe.

There is now a waiting period when it is decided who will become finalists. Last year, of the 38 TUHSD students named semifinalists, 34 were selected as finalists and all went on to win a scholarship for college.

Roughly 1.5 million high school students were eligible for the award this year and the top 50,000 qualified. Early this month, 16,000 of the 50,000 were notified they were semifinalists.

Dr. Greg Wyman, associate superintendent, said it is an indicator of the high standards set for district schools.

"It shows rigor and relevance and how we are making sure kids meet those standards," Wyman said. "Consistently we score better in all areas ... and all the credit goes to parents, teachers and the kids themselves."

The 54 students selected is the second highest amount in the last seven years. Two years ago TUHSD had 59 named as semifinalists. This year also marks the fourth time in five years that the district has had the most semifinalists out of any district in Arizona.

"We set the bar high in this district," Wyman said. "We're just really proud of the kids who achieved this honor and we are grateful to the teachers and to the community for making this possible."

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