High school seniors from Ponchatoula and Springfield high schools were two of the nine in Louisiana named in the first group of winners in the 64th annual National Merit Scholarship Program.

Of the other winners, four are from Jefferson Parish, two are from St. Tammany Parish and one is from Lake Charles.

Cooper W. Coldwell of Ponchatoula is receiving his scholarship from The Novartis Group, a manufacturer of pharmaceuticals and healthcare products. Coldwell is interested in a career in science and research.

Andrew J. Larpenter of Springfield is receiving his scholarship from Arkema, a U.S. diversified chemicals manufacturer. Larpenter is interested in a career in engineering.

More than 1,000 high school seniors this year have won National Merit Scholarship awards financed by about 160 corporations, company foundations and other business organizations.

Scholars were selected from students who advanced to the finalist level in the National Merit Scholarship competition and met criteria of their scholarship sponsors. Corporate sponsors provide National Merit Scholarships for finalists: who are children of their employees, residents of communities the company serves, or those who plan to pursue college majors or careers the sponsor wishes to encourage.

Most of these awards are renewable for up to four years of college undergraduate study and provide annual stipends that range from $500 to $10,000 per year.

More scholarship winners are scheduled to be announced May 8, June 5 and July 15. By the conclusion of this year’s competition, about 7,600 students will have won National Merit Scholarships worth more than $31 million.


Follow Charles Lussier on Twitter, @Charles_Lussier.