Allison Hurtado/AFN

Twenty-one Desert Vista and seven Mountain Pointe students were recently named finalists for the National Merit Scholarship, a national distinction honoring the top high school students in the country.

High school students enter the National Merit Program by taking the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test — a test which serves as an initial screen of more than 1.5 million entrants each year — and by meeting published program entry/participation requirements, according to its website.

From that initial group of 1.5 million, the top 50,000 scores are taken and those students qualify for recognition in the National Merit Scholarship Program. Then the top 16,000 students, divided by state, are selected as semi-finalists.

The top 15,000 students were notified in February that they were finalists. This distinction was awarded based on several factors, including they must be enrolled or planning to enroll in college full time for fall 2012, and continue to show high academic achievement in their high school careers.

Each student is in competition for one of 8,300 National Merit $2,500 Scholarships. There are also the corporate-sponsored Merit Scholarship awards, and college-sponsored Merit Scholarship awards.

“(Superintendent Kenneth Baca) has said time and time again how proud he is to be part of this district,” Linda Littell, spokeswoman for Tempe Union High School District, said. “He is thrilled to represent TUHSD as leaders in the state of Arizona for number of semifinalists and finalists for the award.”

Overall, 41 students from TUHSD schools were named finalists. The Desert Vista students are Saumya Bollam, Brandon Djaja, Katie Giel, Brenna Goodwin, Ali Icenogle, Joseph Kim, Stephen Marcucci, Jay Min, Rohitha Moudgal, Anoosha Murella, Daniel Niv, Carolyn Rath, Seung Jae Son, Anes Sung, Susan Tu, Peter Tueller, Maggie Wong, Andrew Wu, Jennifer Wu, Kevin Zheng and Jenny Zou.

The seven students from Mountain Pointe are Joshua Anolick, Tommy Bello, Ryan Hofmann, Ajay Karpur, Alex (Alexandrea) Martinez, Sean Sannier and Frank Zhang.

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