Episcopal students advance in National Merit program _lowres

Photo provided by Dianne Madden -- Episcopal students named finalists in the National Merit Scholarship Program, from left, are Matthew Garrett, Joseph Leo, Alex Dunbar, Mary Beth Barksdale, Richard Whitehurst and Gavin Perkins.

Six Episcopal High School students have advanced as finalists in the National Merit Scholarship Program.

Finalists included Mary Beth Barksdale, Alex Dunbar, Matthew Garrett, Joseph Leo, Gavin Perkins and Richard Whitehurst.

The National Merit Scholarship Program is an academic competition for recognition and scholarships that began in 1955. High school students enter the National Merit Program by taking the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test, which serves as an initial screen of approximately 1.5 million entrants each year, and by meeting published program entry and participation requirements.

In February, some 15,000 semifinalists are notified that they have advanced to finalist standing. All winners of the awards are chosen from the finalist group based on their abilities, skills and accomplishments.