Pickerington's three National Merit Scholarship Program semifinalists each are looking for a successful conclusion of their high school careers before heading to college next year.
Last month, the National Merit Scholarship Corp. announced Pickerington High School Central senior Tynan Douglas and Pickerington High School North seniors Kristen Eisenhauer and Kyle Planck had been selected as semifinalists for the 58th National Merit Scholarship Program.
The three local students were among approximately 16,000 semifinalists selected from high schools throughout the U.S., and they remain in the running for 8,300 National Merit Scholarships, which will be awarded next spring.
High school students enter the National Merit Program by taking the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test -- a test that serves as an initial screening of approximately 1.5-million entrants each year -- and by meeting published program entry/participation requirements.
Semifinalists are the highest-scoring entrants in each state.
National Merit Scholarship winners each receive a $2,500 college scholarship.
That's something each of the local semifinalists said they could use, because each has lofty plans following high school graduation.
Douglas, 17, is the son of Maurice and Laura Douglas.
Although he said his favorite class throughout high school always has been chemistry, he's not taking a chemistry course this year.
So, he listed government as his favorite class for his senior year.
A member of the varsity track team, theatre, the Science Olympiad, National Honor Society, Key Club and Honor Council, Douglas is still considering a number of colleges to attend.
Among them are the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard University, Stanford University, the University of Michigan, Ohio State University, the University of Chicago, Princeton University and Columbia University.
He said he's considering chemical engineering for undergraduate studies before going on to medical school, or he might pursue a degree in business administration and economics before seeking to obtain a master's degree in business administration.
Upon hearing he was selected as a National Merit semifinalist, Douglas said he was "ecstatic."
"I'd actually been studying for the test for a while before I took it," Douglas said.
"That's a significant portion of money, and since my sophomore year I'd set a goal to be a National Merit semifinalist.
"I put in the effort to study and it paid off. When I found out I was a semifinalist, I was very, very happy."
Eisenhauer, 17, is the daughter of Dan and Kathy Eisenhauer. She listed her favorite class as advanced-placement English and advanced-placement calculus.
Eisenhauer's school activities include being a member of North's varsity cross country and track teams.
She is North's Student Council president, and she's also involved in Sunny Side Up and is on the youth leadership team at her church, Seton Parish in Pickerington.
Looking toward college, Eisenhauer is considering enrolling at the University of Notre Dame, the University of Virginia or Cornell University.
Eisenhauer said she's interested in studying engineering and applied mathematics.
As for being selected as a National Merit semifinalist, Eisenhauer said it was a pleasant surprise that moves her one step closer to her goal of earning the organization's acclaimed scholarship.
"I had studied a little bit and went in to the test hoping to become a National Merit Scholar," Eisenhauer said. "So, when I heard I was a semifinalist I was very happy and hopeful for the next round."
The youngest semifinalist of the three is Planck, 16, who is the son of Tim and Lisa Planck.
Planck said his favorite class is chemistry and he's keeping his schedule full this year.
He's a member of the North Drumline, National Honor Society, Sunny Side Up, student council and Team Physics.
After graduation, Planck said he hopes to attend the University of Notre Dame, where he plans to study chemical engineering.
Planck's reaction to being selected as a National Merit Scholarship semifinalist was succinct. He said he was "excited, honored and humbled."
The National Merit Scholarship Program is an academic competition that began in 1955.
The National Merit Scholarship Corp. provides scholarship application materials to semifinalists through their high schools. According to the National Merit Scholarship Corp., about 90 percent of semifinalists are expected to attain finalist standing, and more than half of the finalists will win a National Merit Scholarship.
Scholarships are underwritten by the National Merit Scholarship Corp. with its own funds, and by approximately 440 business organizations and higher education institutions.