Two LBHS students selected as National Merit Scholarship winners

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The National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) announced this year’s winners of the $2,500 scholarship awarded to 2,500 students nationwide, including Laguna Beach High School students Keira Hundhausen and Christopher Herkins.

Laguna Beach High School Principal Jason Allemann (center) with National Merit Scholarship winners Keira Hundhausen and Christopher Herkins. Photo courtesy of Laguna Beach Unified School District

The National Merit Scholarship Program is an annual academic competition for high school students, offering recognition and college scholarships. It began in 1955 and is conducted by NMSC, a nonprofit organization that operates without government assistance. High school students in the United States enter the National Merit Scholarship Program by taking the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. This test serves as an initial screening for over 1.3 million entrants annually.

“I am always impressed by the number of National Merit semi-finalists and finalists LBHS has year in and year out,” LBHS Principal Jason Allemann said. “These students represent a remarkable level of academic achievement and consistent hard work, and they will certainly make a significant impact at any college or university fortunate enough to have them.”

Laguna Beach High School Principal Jason Allemann (center) with National Merit Scholarship winners Keira Hundhausen and Christopher Herkins. Photo courtesy of Laguna Beach Unified School District

Among all students who entered the 2024 National Merit Scholarship Program, only 16,000 were named semi-finalists. The highest-scoring students in each state represent the pool of semifinalists who, according to the National Merit Scholarship Corporation, represent less than one percent of United States high school seniors. To advance in the competition and be considered for a Merit Scholarship award, a Semifinalist had to become a Finalist by fulfilling several requirements, including submitting a detailed scholarship application and presenting a record of very high academic performance.

“I’m so proud to see Kiera and Chris recognized as National Merit Scholars. Their dedication to their academics and passions has been truly impressive,” said LBHS School Counselor Alexis Mele. As their school counselor at LBHS, it has been amazing to watch them both blossom in everything they do, and I can’t wait to see the incredible things they’ll achieve in the future.”

Finalists compete with all other finalists in their state or selection unit for one of the 2,500 National Merit $2,500 scholarships. A committee of college admission officers and high school counselors selects winners. The selection process involves evaluating substantial information about finalists obtained from students and their high schools. Included are the finalist’s academic record (course load and difficulty level, depth and breadth of subjects studied, and grades earned); PSAT/NMSQT scores; the student’s essay; demonstrated leadership and contributions to school and community activities; and the school official’s written recommendation and characterization of the finalist.

The 2024 scholarship winners join the nearly 375,000 past winners who have earned the title of Merit Scholar.

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