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More than 40 CCSD Students named 2020 National Merit Scholarship Semifinalists

National Merit Scholarship Program Charleston County School District (CCSD) is proud to announce 42 of its talented scholars from a total of four schools are Semifinalists for the 65th annual National Merit Scholarship Program; the National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NSMC) released the names of approximately 16,000 Semifinalists yesterday.

Academic Magnet High School leads the state with 29 Semifinalists; that is the largest number of NMSC Semifinalists in school history as well, and the third year in a row the Raptors have had 20 or more.

“The Class of 2020 has been on our radar for some time as a collective group of extremely high-potential students,” said Principal Catherine Spencer. “The number on this year's list of National Merit Semifinalists is extraordinarily impressive as nearly 17% of our seniors earned this honor! We are extremely proud of the efforts of these students, as well as our Raptor staff and learning environment that support the realization of the highest in student achievement.”

These high school seniors now have an opportunity to continue in the competition for some 7,600 National Merit Scholarships worth a total of about $31 million that will be offered this spring.

"We are so excited to announce our nine Wando National Merit Semifinalists," stated Principal Sherry Eppelsheimer. "This prestigious distinction is an honor for these students. Wando students have a rich tradition of excellence in academics, athletics, and co-curricular activities. They invest tremendous time, talent, and energy balancing academics with other areas of school life. These nine represent the best of the best."

More than 1.5 million juniors from about 21,000 high schools entered the 2020 National Merit Scholarship Program by taking the 2018 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT), which served as an initial screen of program entrants. The nationwide pool of Semifinalists, representing less than one percent of U.S. 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. 

To become a Finalist, the Semifinalist and a high school official must submit a detailed scholarship application that includes the Semifinalist’s academic record, participation in school and community activities, demonstrated leadership abilities, employment, and honors and awards received. A Semifinalist must have an outstanding academic record throughout high school, be endorsed and recommended by a high school official, write an essay, and earn SAT scores that confirm the student’s earlier performance on the qualifying test. 

“We are so proud of our gifted Semifinalists and their academic achievement,” added Charleston County School of the Arts Principal Shannon Cook. “This level of success results from their hard work, the rigorous instruction provided by their teachers, and the support they receive from their families. We applaud these young artists and look forward to their future contributions and accomplishments!”

2020 National Merit Scholarship finalists will be contacted by NSMC in February and winners will be announced in four nationwide news releases beginning in April and concluding in July. These scholarship recipients will join more than 345,000 other distinguished young people who have the Merit Scholar title.

“Andre Rodriguez represents the potential of scholars within the Charleston Charter School for Math and Science mission,” explained Principal Mary Carmichael. “His range of accomplishments include leading our VEX robotics team to new heights and serving as an actual teaching assistant in math classes. I hope he knows how proud we are of him and his impact at our school.”

Congratulations to the following 2020 Semifinalists: 

Academic Magnet 

Caelen J. Bailey                             

Cademon B. Bitting                             

Christian W. Blackburn                    

Molly M. Dickerson                        

Sophia Discolo                              

Josephine R. Drake                        

Vivian S. D’Souza                           

Gabrielle A. Gagnon                       

Robert K. Gourdie                          

Michael L. Hammer                                                                         

Jennifer E. Hsu  

Brendan S. Kelleher                       

Richard T. Keys                                    

Ameen M. Khan                            

William C. Kronsberg                              

Claire A. Kunkle                             

Sabrina K. Lawrence                                    

Davis J. Leath                                  

Jonathan T. Lemon                        

Allison M. Li                             

Caroline E. Lucas                                                                 

Ellyn L. Marino                             

Samuel A. Rosenberg                     

Shreyon Roy                                 

Michelle Sun 

Amber Z. Tu 

Dhillon R. Wegner 

Sophia C. Wilson   

Sophia Zhang     


Charleston Charter School for Math and Science

Andre Rodriguez


Charleston County School of the Arts    

Caroline W. Conway    

Maya J. Green  

Christina S. Lewis  



Richard J. Battles  

Molly M. Bynum   

Brooklyn M. Cantey  

Reid B. Chave  

Marissa Coll  

Jolie E. Crunelle  

Jack D. Mays  

Akshay S. Patwardhan  

Gillian L. Richard   

For more information, please contact the Office of Strategy and Communications at (843) 937-6303.