desk stock file photo school

During a tour of the West Jefferson High School with coronavirus precautions it can be seen that each desk in the classroom has a grey or red sticker on the top corner in Harvey, La. Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2020. Each period, students will be asked to alternate their use of desks and to clean them off after each class. The school is scheduled to open on August 26. (Photo by Max Becherer,, The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate)

Forty-nine students from across the Capitol region are semifinalists for a National Merit Scholarship, out of 16,000 semifinalists nationwide for the 66th annual scholarship competition.

These high school seniors will continue on to compete for 7,500 scholarships. The scholarships are worth more than $30 million and will be awarded in the spring.

A total of 233 students across Louisiana are National Merit semifinalists this year. The New Orleans metro area, which includes the North Shore, had more than half of them, with 123 semifinalists.

At the school level, Ben Franklin High had the most students in the state who successfully became semifinalists with 23. Next was Baton Rouge Magnet High with 19 followed by Caddo Magnet High in Shreveport with 18. In the Capital region, Episcopal High had 12, the only other high school with 10 or more semifinalists.

Semifinalists must fulfill several requirements to advance to the finalist level. More than 90% of the semifinalists are expected to attain finalist standing, with about half of the finalists receiving scholarships and earning the merit scholar title.

Semifinalists were drawn from a pool of 1.5 million juniors in 21,000 high schools who took the PSAT in 2019.

Here are the latest semifinalists in the Capital region:


Baton Rouge Magnet High: Zayeed A. Akhter, Emily C. Boldor, Varun Dhaka, Fariz H. Firdausi, Camille A. Gildersleeve, Colin W. Herke, Jay M. Iyer, Riley C. Jenkins, Justin Kim, Andrew Nguyen, Tommy T. Nguyen, Ju-Woo Nho, Elise M. Overton, Ethan W. Rainach, Olivia N. Smith, Shamitha Thumma, Lanie G. Wang, Bailey A. Wells and Jonathan Wu

Catholic High: Brennan M. Campesi, Bailey A. Faulk, Adam P. Grissom, Noah K. Hixson, Jacob M. LeBlanc, Benjamin T. Mayeux and Christian J. Thompson

Episcopal High: Abhay Basireddy, Matthew T. Bickham, Gregory F. Field, Elaine M. Gboloo, Joseph Y. Ismail, Evan J. Jurkovic, Alex C. Nelson, Marshall H. Pentes, Connor W. Porthouse, Bethany S. Reid, Charles L. Roth and Katherine A. Scarton

LSU Lab School: Niles A. Babin and Riley P. Rosenfeld

St. Joseph’s Academy: Anna C. Eagleton, Jillian G. Eskew and Emily A. Uter


Denham Springs High: Caroline E. Cantu


Dutchtown High: Abigail M. Evans and Nellie Y. Jun


West Feliciana High: Mathilde L. Fox-Smith


Zachary High: Natalie M. Creel and Anna K. Dupre