Marysville High School principal Matt Chrispin could not be more proud.

Marysville High School principal Matt Chrispin could not be more proud.

For the first time, five MHS students have been named semifinalists in the National Merit Scholarship Program.

"That is a heck of an accomplishment for the school, the kids and the community," Chrispin said.

Lyndsie Anderson, Jacob Beil, James Johnstone, Jonathan Merklin and Michael-Joseph Richardson can add their names to only 35 other students from MHS since 1975 to make the cut in this prestigious contest.

They join a total of 16,000 other semifinalists across the country, narrowed down from 1.5 million students who took thePreliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying test last spring.

"This nationwide pool represents less than 1 percent of U.S. high school seniors," according to Chrispin.

The students are taking a humble approach.

"I don't feel all that special. I just try my hardest. It's just what I expect of myself," Anderson said.

"It's just a test. Some people just have better test taking skills,"Richardson said. "There may be kids that might be in the country's top 1 percent but they didn't take that test."

The NMSP is an academic competition for recognition and scholarships.

"The test takes into account selection index scores, which include critical reading, mathematics, and writing skills," Assistant Principal Shawn Williams said. "Students whose scores represented the highest scores in each of the 50 states and who met other requirements as determined by the NMSP qualified to be semifinalists."

Out of the 32 Ohio Capital Conference schools, Marysville High School had the fourt- largest number of semifinalists.

"Those kids are very talented and gifted but I still think you have to be able to cultivate them, challenge them and grow them -- just like a coach with a very talented team," Chrispin said.

The semifinalists can advance to finalist standing by meeting high academic standards and other requirements.

Last year, MHS had three semifinalist and all three became finalists and received scholarships.

Anderson and Richardson are just two of this year's semifinalists and their lifestyles reflect the kind of drive that has helped them achieve this accomplishment.

"I work at McDonald's about 30 hours a week," Anderson said." I also work about four hours a week at Hollister at the mall. I'm vice president of the Leo Club which is a community service club. I'm the editor-in-chief of the school paper. I've done yearbook. I'm in National Honor Society."

Richardson is president of the National Honor Society at MHS.

"I'm in Boy Scouts, robotics, band and soccer. And I made the state competition in Mock Trial last year," he said.

Both have lofty goals.

"My top college choices are Boston College and then the University of Miami in Florida," Anderson said.

She wants to study journalism or international business with a minor in Spanish.

Richardson is not sure what he wants to study yet but is sure he wants to get his education from the best.

"I want to go preferably to an upper tier college because I love being around people who challenge me," he said.

Semifinalists will learn in February 2013 if they have moved on to finalist standing.

In the spring, 8,300 finalists will be notified that they have been selected to receive a Merit Scholarship award.

Chrispin wants everyone to know the kind of academic excellence MHS students can achieve.

"We did purchase a record board," he said. "We're going to post all the names outside the guidance office.

"It's a very big deal."