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story.lead_photo.caption NWA Democrat-Gazette/BEN GOFF — Students pass between the north and south buildings of Bentonville High School during a class change March 12. Bentonville and Fayetteville students typically perform among the best on state math and literacy tests.

Northwest Arkansas had 73 students qualify as semifinalists in the 2020 National Merit Scholarship Program, nearly half of the state's total.

The Bentonville School District led the state with 21 semifinalists, including 14 at Bentonville High School and seven at West High School. Haas Hall Academy had 20 semifinalists across its four campuses in Northwest Arkansas. Other districts with semifinalists are Rogers with five, Springdale with four, Siloam Springs with three, Providence Academy with two and one each for Shiloh Christian, NWA Classical Academy and West Fork.

The Fayetteville School District had 15. The Rogers district had five and the Springdale district had four.

The names of about 16,000 semifinalists from across the country were released Wednesday by the National Merit Scholarship Corp. Arkansas had 153 semifinalists, up from last year's 132.

More than 1.5 million juniors in about 21,000 high schools entered the 2020 program by taking the 2019 Preliminary SAT and National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test, according to a news release from the corporation.

The nationwide pool of semifinalists, representing less than 1% of high school seniors, includes the highest-scoring entrants in each state. The number of semifinalists in a state is proportional to the state's percentage of the national total of graduating seniors, according to the release.

To become a finalist, a semifinalist and a high school official must provide information on academic record, participation in school and community activities and more. About 15,000 of the 16,000 semifinalists are expected to advance to the finalist level, according to the release.

Finalists will be notified in February. All finalists will compete for one of 2,500 National Merit $2,500 scholarships.

NW News on 09/12/2019

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