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Wakulla High’s Daniel Sullivan Named National Merit Scholarship Semifinalist



September 15, 2017


Wakulla High School senior James Daniel Sullivan III has been named a National Merit Scholarship Semifinalist in this prestigious program that awards individual students who demonstrate exceptional academic ability and leadership qualities.


Officials of the National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) recently announced the names of approximately 16,000 Semifinalists in the 63nd annual National Merit Scholarship Program.


These academically talented high school seniors have an opportunity to continue in the competition for some 7,500 National Merit Scholarships worth about $33 million that will be offered next spring.


About 1.5 million juniors in more than 22,000 high schools nationally entered the 2018 National Merit Scholarship Program by taking the October 2016 Preliminary Scholastic Assessment Test/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT), which served as an initial screening of program entrants.


Of those 1.5 million juniors, the top scoring 3 percent (about 45,000 students) were still in the Scholarship program.  Two thirds of those 45,000 students received Letters of Commendation, which may help with their college applications and state and local scholarships.


Daniel is in with the remaining top one-third test takers of the 45,000 (about 15,000 students nationwide) who qualify as National Merit Semifinalists. 


"This is a very big deal," says Superintendent Bobby Pearce.  "Colleges recruit National Merit Semifinalists and Finalists. They are the all-stars of academics."


To go further and become eligible for a National Merit Scholarship award, Semifinalists must fulfill several requirements to advance to the Finalist level of the competition.


First, they must fill out the National Merit Scholarship Application that includes an essay and letters of recommendation.  They then must submit verification of additional skills, abilities, volunteer work, and accomplishments throughout their high school career. 


Semi-finalists also have to take the SAT, have excellent scores, and keep up their grades through high school graduation in May 2018.


Daniel, who showed an early affinity for math and science, started taking high school courses while in middle school. Excelling in Advanced Placement and Dual Enrollment math, science, English and other courses, he will graduate in 2018 already having earned many college credits.


WHS Principal Mike Barwick, who was also Daniel’s principal at Wakulla Middle School, says, “Daniel is a well-rounded student who has excelled in all his academic subjects, plus finds time to be on the Academic Team and is a vital member of the WHS Band, earning the leadership role of Drum Major for 2017-2018. To be good in so many areas takes a lot of self-discipline.”


NMSC, a not-for-profit organization that operates without government assistance, was established in 1955 specifically to conduct the annual National Merit Scholarship Program. Scholarships are underwritten by NMSC with its own funds and by approximately 420 business organizations and higher education institutions that share NMSC's goals of honoring the nation's scholastic champions and encouraging the pursuit of academic excellence.


Three types of National Merit Scholarships will be offered in the spring of 2018. Every Finalist will compete for one of 2,500 National Merit $2,500 Scholarships that will be awarded on a state-representational basis.


About 1,000 corporate-sponsored Merit Scholarship awards will be provided by approximately 230 corporations and business organizations for Finalists who meet their specified criteria.  In addition, about 190 colleges and universities are expected to finance some 4,000 college-sponsored Merit Scholarship awards for Finalists who will attend the sponsoring college or university.


National Merit Scholars can receive as much as all four years of college paid for, or some of the scholarships require the students to reapply every year for four years, showing that they have kept up their college grades.


National Merit Scholarship winners of 2018 will be announced in four nationwide news releases beginning in April 2018 and concluding in July 2018. These scholarship recipients will join more than 330,000 other distinguished young people who have earned the National Merit Scholar title since its inception in 1955.


Daniel has an outstanding academic record and is interested in math and science. Currently, he plans on earning a college degree in Theoretical Physics and continuing on with advanced degrees in the area of physics.


Adds Superintendent Bobby Pearce, “As one of our own who attended Wakulla Pre-K, Crawfordville Elementary, Wakulla Middle School, and now Wakulla High School, we are so proud that Daniel has been named a National Merit Semifinalist and we look forward to following his college and career journey.”


Sullivan is the son of Dan and Sue Sullivan.


For more information on the National Merit Scholarship program, contact Chief Academic Officer Sunny Chancy at 850-926-0065 (sunny.chancy@wcsb.us) or WHS Assistant Principal for Student Services Priscilla Tucker at 926-2221 (priscilla.tucker@wcsb.us).