According to the 2019 National Merit® Scholarship Program, DiMeglio, Petronio, and Zhu are three of 16,000 semi-finalists across the country who were notified of their advancement to finalist status. Finalists are selected upon review of their abilities, skills, and accomplishments. Winning a National Merit Scholarship depends on more than a student’s PSAT score. All three students were named semi-finalists in September 2018 and were responsible for submitting additional applications that include details on their leadership and extracurricular activities, academic records, school recommendations, and personal essays. Other factors for consideration included the school’s curricula and grading system, state residency, and possibly the student’s career or the college they select.
Of the about 1.5 million juniors who take the PSAT/NMSQT each year, approximately 50,000 juniors with the highest PSAT/NMSQT Selection Index scores (or total PSAT scores) who meet the eligibility requirements described above qualify for NMSP recognition. That is, roughly the top 3% of 11th-grade testers will qualify. The National Merit Scholarship competition begins with the PSAT in October of junior year of high school and ends in spring of senior year.
Students must pass several qualifying stages to receive a National Merit Scholarship:
- Program Recognition Students. The 50,000 top scorers on the PSAT are selected out of about 1.5 million entrants. These students are notified in April of their junior year.
- Semifinalists. Chosen from the Program Recognition Students, the Semifinalists are the highest PSAT scorers from each state. Only they can apply for National Merit Scholarships. Only 1% of the students who take the exam will qualify for this stage.
- Commended Students. In late September, about two-thirds of the entrants who were not selected to be semifinalists receive Letters of Commendation. They are now out of the running for the National Merit Scholarships, but some may receive merit scholarships sponsored by corporations.
- Finalists. In February, about 15,000 finalists are named. Their high schools are notified as are two colleges they’ve selected. Reaching this level of recognition is noteworthy.
- Merit Scholars. Finally, about half of the finalists are named “Merit Scholars” and receive National Merit Scholarships. These winners are notified beginning in March.
Lourdes Principal, Catherine Merryman remarks, “We are thrilled for these students. They are all scholars and incredible role models for all that we strive to achieve each day here at Lourdes. In recent years, typically one or two of our students reach this milestone, so to have three this year is a notable achievement. Christopher, Tara, and Albert are all hard-working, well-rounded individuals with great ambition. We are incredibly proud of them.”
DiMeglio, a Hopewell Junction resident attended St. Denis-St. Columba School prior to Our Lady of Lourdes High School. He is an active member of the National Honor Society and Varsity Wrestling. As the Section One Champion in his weight class, DiMeglio will participate in the NYSPHSAA Championships this weekend in Albany. Petronio is a Poughkeepsie resident and former student from St. Martin de Porres School. Also an active member of the National Honor Society, she commits her time to the Jane Austen Society and Lourdes Theatre Company. Another Poughkeepsie resident and former student from St. Martin de Porres, Zhu is a member of the Varsity Tennis Team, coordinates the Ping Pong Club, and participates in the National Honor Society.