Jerome High School senior Serena Bai has a full-tuition scholarship, renewable for up to three years, waiting for her at Ohio University.

Jerome High School senior Serena Bai has a full-tuition scholarship, renewable for up to three years, waiting for her at Ohio University.

If she doesn't accept it, she still has $200 in her pocket as the winner of the 26th annual Ohio Chemistry Contest sponsored by OU.

Jerome senior Maria El-Hallal placed third in the contest, walking away with $100 and a $2,500 one-year scholarship to OU.

Both girls scored a 5 on their chemistry advanced placement test, the highest score possible, to qualify to compete, said Mike Uretsky, Jerome's enrichment specialist. They also have high grade-point averages "are very strong science students" and had the recommendation of their chemistry teacher, Ron Havlice.

Jerome had a number of students who qualified to compete, Uretsky said. "The tiebreaker was their overall GPA," he said.

There were 24 participants in the contest, Bai said. The competition consisted of a one-hour test.

While both girls shrug off their success, Uretsky said it will look good on their college resumes.

"I think colleges will be interested in seeing this and look at it in a favorable light," Uretsky said.

Bai and El-Hallal credit Havlice for their success.

"Mr. Havlice is a great teacher," Bai said. "Forty-five percent of our AP chemistry class last year got 5s (on the AP test)."

It appears the scholarships will go unused because OU is not on either girl's college list.

Bai plans to major in either math or computer science and is applying to The Ohio State University, University of Chicago, Stanford University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

El-Hallal is looking at a major in science and is applying to OSU, New York University and Georgetown University.