Four Culver Girls Academy seniors have been named finalists for the National Merit Scholarship Program. Dr. Kevin MacNeil made the announcement at the Feb. 18 academic convocation.
February 23, 2015
Finalists include (upper left, clockwise) Clare Cunningham, Kathyrne McDougal, Karen Zhu, and Marlaina Parker. Culver photos/Lew Kopp

Finalists include (upper left, clockwise) Clare Cunningham, Kathyrne McDougal, Karen Zhu, and Marlaina Parker. Culver photos/Lew Kopp

Clare Cunningham (Richmond, Ky.), Kathyrne McDougal (Sierra Madre, Calif.), Marlaina Parker (Marietta, Ga.), and Karen Zhu (St. Louis, Mo.) were originally named semifinalists in September. There were six semifinalists selected from the boarding school district that includes 24 schools from 10 states.

Merit Scholarship semifinalists must fulfill several requirements before advancing as a finalist. Cunningham, McDougal, Parker and Zhu are now eligible to continue in the competition for one of approximately 7,600 National Merit Scholarships worth about $33 million. The awards include National Merit Scholarships of $2,500, corporate-sponsored Merit Scholarships, and college-sponsored Merit Scholarships.

Scholarship winners are selected based on their academic records, information about the school’s curricula and grading system, two sets of test scores, high school officials’ written recommendations, information of the student’s activities and leadership, and each finalist’s own essay.

National Merit Scholarship winners will be announced in four groupings beginning in April and concluding in July. These recipients will join more than 308,000 other distinguished young people who have earned the Merit Scholar title.

About 1.4 million high school juniors in more than 22,000 high schools take the initial screening test, the Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT). From that pool comes 34,000 commended scholars and 16,000 semifinalists. The semifinalists represent less than one percent of the total population who took the initial exam.

Culver had 14 seniors and first-classmen recognized as commended scholars. They included Audria Cameron, Varun Devatha, Nicolas Gradel, Katherine Hansen, Morgan Hartman, Freda Hu, Matthew Janney, Mitchell Kokko, Grant Ralston, Viraj Sahgal, Lili Sankey, Erin Thomas, Muriel Weathers, and Johnny Young.

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