Twelve seniors are announced as National Merit Scholars – and we’re likely to see more

A dozen IUSD seniors have been announced in the first wave of National Merit Scholarship recipients for 2012, with half coming from Northwood High School.

The 12 local students were among a select group of 1,000 U.S. seniors to win corporate-sponsored National Merit Scholarship awards, which were financed by businesses, foundations and corporations. (You can find the official press release here.) Only 19 earned the honor countywide, according to a report in the Orange County Register.

But there are more announcements on the way. The prestigious National Merit Scholarship program also offers college-sponsored awards, as well as “National Merit $2500 Scholarships.” The winners of both will be revealed later this year.

About 1.5 million students became candidates for the awards when they took the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test last year as juniors. In the fall, roughly 16,000 of the highest scoring entrants – including 96 from IUSD – were named semifinalists, representing less than 1 percent of all seniors.

Semifinalists had to fulfill a number requirements to advance, including earning outstanding marks throughout high school, securing the recommendation of their principals and posting high SAT scores.

Most of the corporate-sponsored awards announced April 18 ranged from $500 to $10,000 per year for college and are renewable for up to four years. Some offer a single payment of between $2,500 and $5,000.

Additional National Merit Scholar announcements will be made in May and July, so stay tuned. In all, approximately 8,300 students are expected to secure scholarships totaling $35 million.

Oh, and we should also point out that past National Merit Scholars include former Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, Indiana Governor Mitchell Daniels, former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert B. Reich, Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman, filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan, U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts and Elena Kagan, an associate justice on the Supreme Court.