Houston High School announces SIXTEEN National Merit Semifinalists for 2021

Germantown, Tennessee—September 22, 2020— On September 9, 2020, officials of National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) announced the names of its Semifinalists in the 66th annual National Merit Scholarship Program including sixteen Houston High School Seniors:

Arshad, Suha
Bhatara, Vaidehi
Byers, Cooper
Conard, Raquel
Desurkar, Pradnya
Desurkar, Pranav
Frankel, Elliott
Garde, Avani
Gardner, Angela
Harreld, Madeline
Kamin, Robert
Kasibhatla, Geetha
Li, Zhuoyuan (Alex)
Pande, Harsawardhan (Harshu)
Saksena, Saksham
Sinojia, Parth

These academically talented high school seniors have an opportunity to continue in the competition for some 7,600 National Merit Scholarships worth more than $31 million that will be offered next spring. The nationwide pool of applicants is about 1.5 million, and the Semifinalists represent less than one percent of U.S. high school seniors. Over 90 percent of the Semifinalists are expected to attain Finalist standing, and about half of the Finalists will win a National Merit Scholarship, earning the Merit Scholar® title. 

This is the largest number of semifinalists that GMSD has ever had.  "Qualifying to be a National Merit Semifinalist is such a huge honor," said student Avani Garde.  "I started prepping for the PSAT the summer before my junior year. I worked practice problems about 3 hours per week, so it's really rewarding to see the payoff. It goes to show that putting in extra work helps you out in the end. National Merit Semifinalists automatically receive scholarships at many schools, so that one test can go a long way in paying for education," continued Garde.

"I feel honored to join the fine cut of my peer group, which opens various avenues for my future education including access to merit scholarships. This award is gratifying recognition of my efforts and hard work put in during high school years," echoed fellow National Merit Semifinalist Saksham Saksena.

"Germantown School District is proud of the fact that we have sixteen students who qualified for National Merit Semifinalists this year.  This is an exciting accomplishment for our students, but we are also proud of the fact this represents years of excellent education for these students.  All of our educators and these students' families should be proud of the investments that they have made in these exceptional scholars," said Superintendent Jason Manuel.

Not only did GMSD honor sixteen National Merit Semifinalists, but GMSD is also celebrating nine Commended Students. These students are:
Edward Bess
Jason Clifford
Nicole Fan
Jacob Hall
Taylor Hodgson
Gavin Leonard
Alexander Marler
Virginia McClain
William White
Although these students will not continue in the 2021 competition for National Merit Scholarship awards, they placed among the top 50,000 scorers of more than 1.5 million students who entered the competition by taking the PSAT. Commended Students are recognized for their outstanding academic promise. 

*Not pictured, Robert Kamin and Geetha Kasibhatla
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