Return to Headlines

National Merit Semifinalists named

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


“Congratulations to all eight Oconee County Schools students who have been recognized by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation for academic excellence,” said Superintendent Jason L. Branch. “These students excel in their coursework, leadership, extracurricular activities, and community involvement. I commend these outstanding scholars, as well as their parents and teachers, for this tremendous accomplishment.” 


Those named National Merit Semifinalists are:


North Oconee High School

  • Saketh Chaluvadi, son of Sailaja Maddali and Srini Chaluvadi
  • Cassandra He, daughter of Yuan Lin and Biao He
  • Kathrynne Kelley, daughter of Kelsey Fox and Shaun Kelley
  • Felicia Pursner, daughter of Davelle and Henry Pursner
  • Embyr Williams, daughter of Marie and Robin Williams

Oconee County High School

  • Riley Colquitt, son of Catherine and Jason Colquitt
  • Annika Nilsson, daughter of Heidi and Kent Nilsson
  • Kevin Zhang, son of Rong Wu and Xiaoyu Zhang

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.


For more information about the competition, please visit