Nine Staples High School seniors have been named finalists in the 2014 National Merit Scholarship Program, according to school officials.
The students have a chance to earn one of 8,000 National Merit Scholarship awards, worth a cumulative value of more than $35 million.
Final scholarship winners, chosen from a group of more than 15,000 finalists, will be notified by NMSC as early as March. Merit Scholar designees are selected on the basis of "skills, accomplishments and potential for success in rigorous college studies," school officials said.
To become a National Merit finalist, those selected met the following criteria: "outstanding" academic record throughout high school; endorsed and recommended by the school principal, and earn SAT scores that confirm the student's earlier qualifying test performance. The semifinalist and a school official then submitted a detailed scholarship application, which included the student's essay and information about the candidate's participation and leadership in school and community activities.
Staples Principal John Dodig hailed the National Merit finalists.
"Because I spend so many hours each week with our students, I know how talented and hard-working they are," he said in a statement. "Some of the public, however, needs a metric to judge just how well-prepared are students are. The National Merit Scholarship Program is one such a metric."
Because Staples has nine National Merit finalists -- the school's nine semifinalists were named finalists -- is "a visible sign that we have an outstanding student body," Dodig added. "This many students in one class reaching this level of success lets the world know how serious our students are about becoming well-educated and how dedicated our teaching staff is in helping them reach their potential."