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Press Release - 2017 National Merit Scholar Finalists Announced

CONTACT:   Laureen Ricks
31 Students From Duval County Public Schools Become Finalists  
JACKSONVILLE, Fla., March 3, 2017 – Thirty-one students attending Duval County Public Schools (DCPS) are among the 15,000 selected nationwide as finalists in the 63rd annual National Merit Scholarship Program. These academically-talented high school seniors have an opportunity to receive one of 7,500 National Merit Scholarships worth more than $31.3 million that will be offered this spring. DCPS had thirty finalists in 2016 and twenty-three finalists in 2015.
“These students are a shining reminder of the academic excellence the district produces through its teachers and leaders,” said DCPS Superintendent Dr. Nikolai Vitti. “I hope these students’ stories inspire all to commit to academic excellence.”
The 31 DCPS students represent five high schools across the district: Atlantic Coast High School (1), Fletcher High School (1), Mandarin High School (1), Paxon School for Advanced Studies (2), Stanton College Preparatory School (25), Westside High School (1).  The students selected this year represent the highest number of finalists in the district for the past two school years as there were 23 in 2015, and 30 in 2016.  The 2017 DCPS student finalists include: Jill Boggs, Madeline Daniel, Michelle Dantzler, Jackson Dillard, Victoria Ge, Samuel Goldstein, Joyce Hu, Praniti N. Kudre, Haley Lee, Isabella Lopez, Orven Mallari, Ashlie Malone, Akhil Mandavalli, Michael McCain, Stephen Eduardo McIntosh, Hannah Mendoza, Joshua Orteza, Sarah Page, Naveen Perisetla, Jason Raiti, David Shi, Isabel Snow, Rebecca Spencer, Andrew So, Arvind Sommi, Saibhavana Srikakolapu, Valerie Starks, James Stevens, Victoria Su, Redi Tola, Rohan Varshney.
DCPS is encouraging its students to sit for the PSAT/NMSQT as early as their freshman and sophomore years to gain experience to the test, and all juniors participate for free as these results are submitted for National Merit Scholarship consideration. To be chosen as a finalist, students must have a record of consistently very high academic performance in all grades 9 - 12, be among the highest scorers on the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualification Test, submit a detailed application, be endorsed and recommended by a high school official, write an essay, and earn SAT scores that confirm the student’s earlier performance on the qualifying test.
“Ultimately, students who take the PSAT/NMSQT multiple times early in high school gain experience and confidence, and begin the process of understanding what it means to be college ready,” said Dr. Vitti. “This is one of our most important strategies as a part of our equity and access work. Participating in multiple college assessments establishes a baseline for improving performance, and sets the tone while preparing for other entrance exams such as the SAT and ACT.”
Beginning in April and continuing through July, NMSC notifies approximately 7,500 finalists that they have been selected to receive a Merit Scholarship award. Scholarships include a $2,500 National Merit Scholarship, corporate sponsored Merit Scholarship awards, and college-sponsored Merit Scholarship awards.
The National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC), a not-for-profit organization, was established in 1955 to conduct the annual National Merit Scholarship Program. Scholarships are underwritten by NMSC with its own funds, corporate sponsors and higher education institutions. For more information about the National Merit Scholarship program, please visit
About Duval County Public Schools
Duval County Public Schools is the 20th largest school district in the national, educating more than 128,000 students in over 190 schools. Its mission is to provide educational excellence for every school, in every classroom, for every student, every day. Visit to learn more.