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National Merit Semifinalists named

The National Merit Scholarship Corporation recently announced the names of its semifinalists in their annual National Merit Scholarship Program. Seven academically talented North Oconee High School seniors were honored as semifinalists in the highly prestigious program.


“I commend all seven Oconee County Schools students who were recognized by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation for academic excellence,” said Superintendent Jason L. Branch. “These students not only excel in their coursework, but also in leadership, extracurricular activities, community involvement, and more. Congratulations to these outstanding young scholars, as well as their parents and teachers, for this tremendous accomplishment.” 


Those named National Merit Semifinalists are:


North Oconee High School

  • Nicholas Beck, son of Michael and Debra Beck
  • Piper Cyterski, daughter of Michael and Trina Cyterski
  • James Jutras, son of Peter and Kristin Jutras
  • Stanislaus Lacksen, son of John and Felicia Lacksen
  • Grace Pan, daughter of Zhengwei Pan and Jun Xue
  • Ryan Yang, son of Benhui Yang and Jihong Xu
  • Celina Zhao, daughter of Qun Zhao and Ying Tang


Around 1.5 million juniors in more approximately 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 his or her high school must submit a detailed scholarship application, including information about the applicant’s academic record, participation in school and community activities, leadership abilities, employment, and awards received.