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Eight seniors who attend Central Academy have been named National Merit Semi-Finalists for 2021.

Eight high school seniors who attend Central Academy at Des Moines Public Schools have been selected as Semi-Finalists in the 66th 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 Roosevelt and Virtual Campus, as well as North Polk and Van Meter (enrolling into Central Academy).

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 2021 National Merit Scholarship Semi-Finalists:

  • Megan Birler – North Polk
  • Elena Busick – Roosevelt
  • Lucy Gates – Van Meter
  • Karianna Klassen – Roosevelt
  • Greta Lelwica – Roosevelt
  • Elizabeth Saunders – Roosevelt
  • Luke Smithberg – Roosevelt
  • Thea Steinbach – Virtual Campus

* 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.”

The National Merit Scholarship Corporate named about 16,000 students as semifinalists in the 66th annual National Merit Scholarship program. The high school students will now compete for 7,600 scholarships worth more than $30 million, which will be given out next year.

More than 1.5 million high school juniors in about 21,000 schools across the country entered the 2021 merit program through taking the 2019 preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test, which screened initial applicants, according to the organization.

Semifinalists represent less than 1% of American high school students. A semifinalist must have an outstanding academic record throughout their time in high school, be recommended by their high school, and write an essay.

Each finalist will compete for a $2,500 scholarship. About 1,000 corporate-sponsored scholarships also will be awarded through the program. About 180 colleges and universities are expected to finance an additional 4,100 college-sponsored scholarships for the finalists.

The National Merit Scholarship winners of 2021 will be announced next April and July.

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

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