Six students in Hilliard City Schools have been recognized as National Merit Scholarship Program semifinalists.

Six students in Hilliard City Schools have been recognized as National Merit Scholarship Program semifinalists.

The students: Emi L. Bungo, Jay P. McKenna, Thomas J. Nitz and Jennifer F. Wisel of Darby High; Austin K. Shafer and Lauren E. Winters of Davidson High.

Guidance counselor Joe Palazzo of Darby said the school has three more semifinalists this year than last year.

Jane O'Shaughnessy, the guidance counselor at Davidson, said one student was named as a semifinalist last year.

The students who earned the semifinalist status this year were identified by the National Merit Scholarship Corp. on Sept. 16.

Palazzo said 16,000 students nationally are semifinalists and of that group, about 8,000 are finalists and 7,000 scholarship winners.

Students who earned commended status are always identified later.

O'Shaughnessy said Davidson learned the identity of its six commended scholars on Sept. 24, but it will probably be a while before they learn if they have a National Achievement or a National Hispanic award-winner.

The commended scholars are: Andrew Boyle, Meyli Chapin, Deanna Drenten, Suzanna Halman, Alexander Lieb and Michael Stephens of Davidson; and Shannon D. Kelleher, Ryan Pelfrey and Kelly A. Prater of Darby.

Sixty to 70 percent of the students at Davidson take the test that qualifies them as a semi-finalist or finalist, according to O'Shaughnessy.

She said she writes a lot of letters of recommendation since National Merit finalists and semifinalists are typically applying to higher selective schools.

In order to qualify for the recognition, Palazzo said, the students have to outline their activities in and out of school, write an essay, receive a recommendation. He supplies three years of grades and their senior schedule.

Palazzo said classroom teachers typically write recommendation letters for Darby students because they work directly with the students.

"They talk about every aspect of the kids' background, not only how they appear on paper," said Palazzo, "but if they are leaders in the classroom and capable of working independently. These are things I don't know. They cite specifics on that and provide anecdotal information."