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Students advance as Merit finalists

By BY LYDIA GRIMES – Features writer
Two T.R. Miller High School students have advanced in the National Merit Scholarship program.
The National Merit Scholarship Program has announced last week that seniors, David Mathieu and Clay Parker have met all requirements to advance to finalist standing in the competition for Merit Scholarship awards to be offered this spring.
The National Merit Scholarship Corporation announced in September that Mathieu and Parker would join some 16,000 students in Alabama to compete for 8,200 Merit scholarship awards, worth $33 million.
Mathieu is the son of the Rev. John and Kathy Mathieu and Parker is the son of Dr. Terry and Susan Parker.
To be considered for a Merit Scholarship award, semifinalists must fulfill several requirements and advance to the finalist level of the competition. About 90 percent of the semifinalists are expected to attain finalist standing, and approximately half of the finalists will be selected as Merit Scholarship winners, earning the Merit Scholar title.
To become a finalist, a semifinalist must have an outstanding academic record throughout the high school years, be endorsed and recommended by the school principal and earn SAT scores that confirm the student's earlier qualifying test performance.
High school students enter the National Merit program by taking the PSAT/NMSQT - a test that serves as an initial screen of more than one million entrants each year.
Merit Scholar designees are selected on the basis of their accomplishments, skills and potential for success in rigorous college studies, without regard to gender, race, ethnic origin or religious preference.
Three types of Merit Scholarship awards are offered in 2006. Every finalist will compete for one of 2,500 National Merit $2,500 scholarships that will be awarded on a state representational basis. Also, about 200 colleges and universities are expected to finance some 4,600 college-sponsored Merit Scholarship awards for finalists who will attend the sponsor institution.
The National Merit Scholarship Program is a privately financed academic competition for recognition and scholarships that began in 1955. Merit Scholarship awards are supported by some 550 independent sponsors and by NMSC's own funds.
Merit Scholarship winners of 2006 will join some 234,000 other distinguished young people who have earned the Merit Scholar title.