Each year, students throughout the nation compete for recognition and scholarships in the prestigious program that began in 1955. High School students enter the National Merit Program by taking the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test—a test which serves as an initial screen of approximately 1.5 million entrants each year—and by meeting published program entry and participation requirements. Of those entrants, some 50,000 with the highest PSAT/NMSQT Selection Score (critical reading + mathematics + writing skills scores) qualify for recognition in the National Merit Scholarship Program. In September, these high scorers are notified through their schools that they have qualified as either a Commended Student or a Semifinalist.
In late September, more than two-thirds (about 34,000) of the approximately 50,000 high scorers receive Letters of Commendation in recognition of their outstanding academic promise. Commended students are named on the basis of a nationally applied Selection Index that is typically below the level required for participants to be named Semifinalist in their respective states. Although Commended Students do not continue in the competition for National Merit Scholarships, some of these students do become candidates for Special Scholarships sponsored by businesses and corporations.
Since 1985, no less than 58 CHS students have achieved Commended Student status.
Also in September, about 16,000 students, or approximately one-third of the 50,000 high scorers, are notified that they have qualified as Semifinalists. These students represent the highest scoring entrants in each state. To be considered for a National Merit Scholarship, Semifinalists must advance to Finalist standing in the competition by meeting high academic standards as well as other requirements explained in information provided to each Semifinalist.
In February, about 15,000 Semifinalists are notified by mail that they have advanced to Finalist standing. High School principals are then notified and provided with a certificate to present to each Finalist. Winners of Merit Scholarship awards are chosen from the Finalist group based on their abilities, skills, and accomplishments without regard to gender, race, ethnic origin, or religious preference. Finalists are eligible to win three types of scholarships—National Merit, Corporate-Sponsored, and College-Sponsored.
As mentioned earlier, Crawfordsville High School’s list of Finalists is quite impressive, as 85 Athenians have achieved that honorary status. From 1956 to 2010, CHS failed only eight times to produce a merit scholar. In a 27- year run from 1984 to 2010, the Gold and Blue produced either Finalists or those that achieved Commended status each year.Those who take time to research will find that Crawfordsville High School is at the very top of the state of Indiana in the number of National Merit Scholars. On two separate occasions—1960 and 1985—CHS produced an impressive seven Finalists. In 1963, five Athenians were Finalists, and in 1965 four were named with that honor. The Gold and Blue can boast of three Finalists in each of the years 1970, 1972, 1989, 1994, and 2010. Kristen Albrecht was the last Athenian to reach Finalist designation, garnering the award in 2014, while 2016 graduate Trey Rogers was recently named a Commended Student. All of this academic success can only mean one thing: students attending Crawfordsville Schools simply have no limits when it comes to their success.