Congratulations to the five Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District (SMMUSD) National Merit Scholarship Semifinalists and the 18 Commended Students. Out of 1.5 million entrants, about 50,000 with the highest Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test (PSAT) and National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test scores qualify for recognition in the National Merit Scholarship Program as Semifinalists and Commended Students.

The semifinalists from Santa Monica High School (Samohi) are Danny Chmaytelli, Lincoln Jarvis, Maya Knauf and Kian Naini. The semifinalist from Malibu High School (MHS) is Dylan Rem. Commended students from Samohi are Ryan Atienza, Jillian Brander, Alexa Duffy, Taj Ford, Natalia Galperin, Rosemary Haygood, Riya Khatod, Isaac Kim, Claire Kovac, Aiden Lee, Elleanor Quist, Theodore Rotgin, Julien Schweighofer, Theodore Tobel, Raeva Vasisht and Mira Wali. The commended students from MHS are Garrett Button and Cooper Norby. All of these students are seniors.

“I feel proud to be selected as a National Merit Semifinalist,” said Chmaytelli. “I studied beforehand by taking the practice test the day before the PSAT and I was also lucky because I had taken my SAT a month before.” Chmaytelli hopes to attend the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he plans to attain a master’s degree in aerospace engineering and would ultimately like to open his own company in the aerospace engineering field.

According to the National Merit Scholarship website, “semifinalists are designated on a state-representational basis and are the highest scoring entrants in each state.” The website goes on to explain that in order for semifinalists to advance to finalist standing in the competition, they must meet the high academic standards, as well as all the other requirements explained in the information provided to each Semifinalist.

“I feel proud of my accomplishments. It’s always rewarding to be acknowledged for a job well done,” said Naini, who hopes to attend Stanford University or the University of California, Berkeley and study medicine.

Samohi National Merit Scholarship Semifinalists Kian Naini, Lincoln Jarvis, Maya Knauf and Danny Chmaytelli

The National Merit Scholarship website states that out of the 50,000 students recognized, 3,400 are commended students. These students receive letters of commendation in recognition of their outstanding academic promise. Although commended students do not continue in the competition for National Merit Scholarships, some do become candidates for special scholarships sponsored by corporations and businesses.

“I was extremely excited to receive the semifinalist recognition. I have sent in my application to become a finalist and possibly win a scholarship as well,” said Jarvis, who hopes to attend the University of Southern California.

“Becoming a semifinalist will hopefully help me in my college admissions process as I think the distinction is a great way to showcase an area of strength in test-taking, though I recognize there are many factors to be considered when making decisions.”

Submitted by Diana Bouchaaya, Communications Specialist

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