2020 National Merit semi-finalist (left to right) are: Fez Zafar, Olivia Nicholson, Katherine Levy, Prithvi Jamadagni, and Ryan Byrd.

Five high school seniors who attend Central Academy at Des Moines Public Schools have been selected as Semi-Finalists in the 65th annual National Merit Scholarship competition, placing them among the top young scholars in the state and nation.

DMPS students among the Semi-Finalists also attend North and Roosevelt high schools.

The students were selected based on their strong performance on the Preliminary SAT (PSAT) test taken last year.

Des Moines Public Schools is proud to announce that the following students have been designated 2020 National Merit Scholarship Semi-Finalists:

  • Ryan Byrd – North Polk*/Roosevelt
  • Prithvi Jamadagni – North
  • Katherine Levy – Roosevelt
  • Olivia Nicholson – Earlham*
  • Fez Zafar – Roosevelt

* Students’ home schools are outside of Des Moines but they attend classes at Central Academy.

“The academic opportunities for students at Des Moines Public Schools give them with the support and resources to be among the best and brightest in our state and nation,” said Tom Ahart, superintendent of Des Moines Public Schools. “Recognition as a National Merit Semi-Finalist is one of the top academic honors a student can earn in high school. A well-deserved congratulations to them, their families and their teachers.”

Officials at the National Merit Scholarship Corporation announced the names of approximately 16,000 Semi-Finalists in the 63rd annual National Merit Scholarship Program. These academically talented high school seniors have an opportunity to continue in the competition for some 7,500 National Merit Scholarships worth about $31 million that will be offered next spring. About 90 percent of the Semi-Finalists are expected to attain Finalist standing, and more than half of the Finalists will win a National Merit Scholarship, earning the Merit Scholar title.

Nearly 600 National Merit Semi-Finalists have attended Des Moines Public Schools over the years.

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