Charleston County School District (CCSD) has announced 42 of its talented scholars from a total of four schools are semifinalists for the 65th annual National Merit Scholarship Program; the National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NSMC) released the names of approximately 16,000 semifinalists on Sept. 12.

Congratulations to the following 2020 semifinalists:

Academic Magnet

  • Caelen J. Bailey
  • Cademon B. Bitting
  • Christian W. Blackburn
  • Molly M. Dickerson
  • Sophia Discolo
  • Josephine R. Drake
  • Vivian S. D’Souza
  • Gabrielle A. Gagnon
  • Robert K. Gourdie
  • Michael L. Hammer
  • Jennifer E. Hsu
  • Brendan S. Kelleher
  • Richard T. Keys
  • Ameen M. Khan
  • William C. Kronsberg
  • Claire A. Kunkle
  • Sabrina K. Lawrence
  • Davis J. Leath
  • Jonathan T. Lemon
  • Allison M. Li
  • Caroline E. Lucas
  • Ellyn L. Marino
  • Samuel A. Rosenberg
  • Shreyon Roy
  • Michelle Sun
  • Amber Z. Tu
  • Dhillon R. Wegner
  • Sophia C. Wilson
  • Sophia Zhang

Charleston Charter School for Math and Science

  • Andre Rodriguez

Charleston County School of the Arts

  • Caroline W. Conway
  • Maya J. Green
  • Christina S. Lewis

Wando

  • Richard J. Battles
  • Molly M. Bynum
  • Brooklyn M. Cantey
  • Reid B. Chave
  • Marissa Coll
  • Jolie E. Crunelle
  • Jack D. Mays
  • Akshay S. Patwardhan
  • Gillian L. Richard

Academic Magnet High School leads the state with 29 semifinalists; that is the largest number of NMSC semifinalists in school history as well, and the third year in a row the Raptors have had 20 or more.

“The Class of 2020 has been on our radar for some time as a collective group of extremely high-potential students,” said principal Catherine Spencer. “The number on this year's list of National Merit Semifinalists is extraordinarily impressive as nearly 17% of our seniors earned this honor. We are extremely proud of the efforts of these students, as well as our Raptor staff and learning environment that support the realization of the highest in student achievement.”

These high school seniors now have an opportunity to continue in the competition for some 7,600 National Merit Scholarships worth a total of about $31 million that will be offered this spring.

"We are so excited to announce our nine Wando National Merit Semifinalists," stated principal Sherry Eppelsheimer. "This prestigious distinction is an honor for these students. Wando students have a rich tradition of excellence in academics, athletics, and co-curricular activities. They invest tremendous time, talent, and energy balancing academics with other areas of school life. These nine represent the best of the best."

More than 1.5 million juniors from about 21,000 high schools entered the 2020 National Merit Scholarship Program by taking the 2018 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT), which served as an initial screen of program entrants. The nationwide pool of Semifinalists, representing less than one percent of U.S. high school seniors, includes the highest scoring entrants in each state. The number of Semifinalists in a state is proportional to the state’s percentage of the national total of graduating seniors.

To become a finalist, the semifinalist and a high school official must submit a detailed scholarship application that includes the semifinalist’s academic record, participation in school and community activities, demonstrated leadership abilities, employment, and honors and awards received. A Semifinalist must have an outstanding academic record throughout high school, be endorsed and recommended by a high school official, write an essay, and earn SAT scores that confirm the student’s earlier performance on the qualifying test.

“We are so proud of our gifted Semifinalists and their academic achievement,” added Charleston County School of the Arts principal Shannon Cook. “This level of success results from their hard work, the rigorous instruction provided by their teachers, and the support they receive from their families. We applaud these young artists and look forward to their future contributions and accomplishments.”

2020 National Merit Scholarship finalists will be contacted by NSMC in February and winners will be announced in four nationwide news releases beginning in April and concluding in July. These scholarship recipients will join more than 345,000 other distinguished young people who have the Merit Scholar title.

“Andre Rodriguez represents the potential of scholars within the Charleston Charter School for Math and Science mission,” explained principal Mary Carmichael. “His range of accomplishments include leading our VEX robotics team to new heights and serving as an actual teaching assistant in math classes. I hope he knows how proud we are of him and his impact at our school.”

For more information, please contact the Office of Strategy and Communications at (843) 937-6303.