Dublin students number among the 16,000 National Merit semifinalists announced last week.

Dublin students number among the 16,000 National Merit semifinalists announced last week.

Twenty-six students from Coffman and Jerome high schools were named semifinalists in the contest run by the National Merit Scholarship Corp.

Students qualify for the program by scoring high on the preliminary SAT and the pool of semifinalists makes up less than 1 percent of U.S. high school seniors, a release from the company said.

Semifinalists from Coffman High School are Leon Cai, Shelanna Chen, Preethi Chidambaram, Silvia Golumbeanu, Lorena Grundy, Drake Thomas, Sree Unnava, Gavisha Waidyaratne, Hopen Yang and Kelvin Zhao.

Jerome High School students who are National Merit semifinalists are Kirsten Fowler, Christopher Hong, Nathaniel Kramer, Melissa Lee, Mina Lee, Kevin Lin, Lagnajit Pattanaik, Alexander Wang, Franklin Xu, Joshua Xu, Jinseok Yang, Sarah Yv, Annie Zhang, Rubin Zhang, Sharon Zhang and Yiwei Zhang.

Two Bishop Watterson High School students from Dublin -- Rachel Riendeau and Mark Widerschein -- also achieved semifinalist status.

"Once again the numbers are very high and I'm very pleased with that," Dublin City School Superintendent David Axner said.

"I don't know if other educators would agree, but there's really a twofold congratulation necessary. I think a lot of what it takes to be a National Merit Scholar starts at home. We have to credit the family and what goes on early in a child's life.

"We can guide that and can affect a student that may be borderline and get them in prep classes," Axner said.

"We have a wonderful curriculum to help with that, but you've got to give credit to the families and the importance they've placed on what education means to the child."

The students have a chance to win one of 8,300 National Merit Scholarships worth more than $32 million. To earn a scholarship, students must reach finalist standing and then attain the title of National Merit Scholar.

To become a finalist, students must submit a scholarship application with information on academic performance, leadership, community activities and any awards received. Finalists will be named in February.

Last year 20 Dublin students were named semifinalists by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation and all 20 were named finalists. Of those finalists, eight won college- or business-sponsored scholarships through the program.