Three students from Hilliard Darby High School are among the approximately 16,000 high school students named semifinalists in the 58th annual National Merit Scholarship program.

Three students from Hilliard Darby High School are among the approximately 16,000 high school students named semifinalists in the 58th annual National Merit Scholarship program.

Nicholas Antos, Benjamin Fair and Alan Li, each 17 years old, a senior at Darby High School and a member of the National Honor Society, were notified of the honor earlier this month.

The three Darby semifinalists have become friends, having met in various Advanced Placement classes at Hilliard Heritage Middle School, where they all attended, and have developed a strong enough rapport with one another to occasionally finish each other's sentences.

All have a firm idea for a field of study and a college or university, but still allow for some exploration.

Antos is interested in biological sciences and is considering a pre-med course of study at the University of Chicago, the University of Rochester, Boston University or Ohio State University.

His interest in the medical field was augmented by his volunteerism at Nationwide Children's Hospital.

"For the past two summers, I was part of a Reach Out and Read program at Children's Hospital," Antos said. "It was great to see on a daily basis what doctors do every day ... and the lives they touch."

Antos is president of the National Honor Society at Darby High School, business manager of Darby's symphonic choir and a Panther Ambassador for the school.

He also is a pianist, performing each weekend at worship services at St. Brendan the Navigator Catholic Church in Hilliard and at St. Christopher Catholic Church in Grandview Heights.

Fair said he plans to study electrical or computer engineering at Ohio State or the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

He is enrolled in a physics class at Ohio State as part of the Lead the Way program and is among a group of Hilliard students who are eligible for the first time to earn college credit while finishing high school.

"I've been doing computer programming since middle school, but recently began studying electrical engineering .... which takes the hardware into account. I find it more challenging," said Fair, who is president of the math and engineering club at Darby High School.

Fair was a member of Darby's swim team last year and is a lifeguard at the Hilliard/Ray Patch YMCA of Central Ohio.

Li also is considering a career in medicine, either in research or as a physician.

He plans to attend Harvard University, Princeton University, the University of Southern California, Emory University or Ohio State.

"I've always been interested in math and sciences," said Li, who wants to specialize in medicine but is yet to decide whether he will focus on research in a laboratory setting or become a general practitioner.

"I've shadowed doctors (at Riverside Methodist Hospital) and while the research interests me, a lab might be boring ... I think I'll want to work with people," Li said.

Li is the treasurer of the National Honor Society. He is a member of the track and cross country teams, and the current valedictorian of the senior class with a GPA of 4.479.

All three National Merit Scholarship semifinalists currently are in the top five of their class.

Ryan McClure, principal of Darby High School, said the academic achievement of the trio "places them in the company of the nation's finest students."

"The Darby staff is very proud of (their) achievements and (their) foresight into the importance of an excellent education," McClure said.

The National Merit Scholarship program is an academic competition that began in 1955. High school students enter by taking the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. Semifinalists are the highest-scoring entrants in each state.

The semifinalists can submit applications to be considered for 2,500 scholarships valued at $2,500. Other corporate-sponsored scholarships are available to 1,000 students who meet specified criteria, and another 4,900 college-sponsored scholarships are available through 200 colleges and universities, according to the National Merit Scholarship Corp.

Finalists will be announced in the spring.

Three semifinalists from Davidson High School were featured in the Sept. 27 edition of ThisWeek Hilliard Northwest News.