Eighteen Upper Arlington High School seniors and one from Wellington have been selected as semifinalists in the 54th annual National Merit Scholarship Program.

Eighteen Upper Arlington High School seniors and one from Wellington have been selected as semifinalists in the 54th annual National Merit Scholarship Program.

The students have an opportunity to continue in the competition for 8,200 National Merit Scholarships worth more than $35-million that will be offered next spring.

UAHS student Jamie Arkin said he plans to apply to Vanderbilt University, Northwestern University and Miami University of Ohio.

The rigorous curriculum at UAHS helped prepare him for college, Arkin said.

"All the (advanced placement) courses and the wide variety gives me a chance to test myself and push myself academically and find out what appeals to me," Arkin said.

Helen Chen said she plans to apply to Harvard, Princeton and the University of Southern California.

"I want to eventually become a doctor, but I would love to major in business, economics or education as well," Chen said. "Each of these areas would be invaluable to further my career in the future."

Lindsay Gardner plans to apply to Ohio State, Boston College and Colgate University.

"I didn't take any SAT or ACT prep courses before the PSAT, so I would say that my high score was from things I learned at UAHS," she said. "I am looking forward to college and I feel that I am prepared for it."

Ellen Hill said she plans to apply to Kenyon, Darmouth and Colgate.

"The many (advanced placement) classes offered at UAHS have helped to prepare me for college and helped me to learn to think at a higher level, which is necessary to become a National Merit semifinalist," Hill said.

Joseph Huntley said he plans to apply to Ohio State, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard.

"UAHS is an excellent academic institution," Huntley said. "By giving me the chance to take the AP and (international baccalaureate) classes I wanted to take, as well as giving me an opportunity to participate in the post-secondary program, UAHS helped me prepare for college."

Wesley Jenq plans to apply to Ohio State, Columbia and the University of California, Berkeley.

"I think the faculty at the high school really encourages critical thinking, which is necessary for things such as standardized tests and, I imagine, the college world as well," Jenq said.

Lay Kodama said John Hopkins University is her top choice.

"UAHS has helped me prepare for college in that it has motivated me to find what I'm truly interested in pursuing in the future," said Kodama, who plans to major in neuroscience and follow the pre-medicine track. "I hope college will let me focus even more on the things I am most interested in."

Lee Matheson said he plans to apply to Denison, Case Western and Ohio State.

"The OSU Honors Program, it feels like a small liberal arts college," Matheson said. "I like the low student-teacher ratio."

Kersey Schott plans to apply to Ohio State, Purdue and Carnegie Mellon University.

"The strong curriculum options I have been provided with at UAHS have prepared me a lot for college," Schott said, "because I have taken advantage of the opportunity to take college-level AP courses during high school."

Theodore E. Kent of Wellington said he plans to apply to the University of Chicago and Macalester College in St. Paul, Minn.

Kent said Wellington's strong math curriculum helped him score well on the 2007 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test.

"I was definitely more familiar with those questions when I saw them, he said.

Other UAHS National Merit semifinalists are Blake Robert Bertani, Emily Dee Braaten, Daniel Cardenas-Rivero, Megan Lei Gao, Aedan Gormley Maher, Nathan Jacob Malkin, Rathi Ganga Ramasamy, Aaditya Ganesh Shidham and Matthaias Westwood.

cbournea@thisweeknews.com