Watauga High School senior Sam Weeks has been named a finalist for a National Merit Scholarship, a prestigious and highly competitive award given through the National Merit Scholarship Corporation.
Watauga High School Principal Marshall Gasperson said that “Watauga High School is excited to honor Sam and his accomplishments and we wish him well as he continues the process for scholarship awards.”
Weeks was also one of four Watauga High School students chosen to attend Governor’s School last year. His selection to Governor’s School was in the subject area of natural science.
Finalists for a National Merit Scholarship are chosen in several steps, beginning with the identification of 50,000 students achieving very high scores on the Preliminary SAT (PSAT) out of about 1.5 million students nationwide who take this assessment. As the selection process continues, 16,000 semifinalists are chosen based on having a PSAT score that is in approximately the top 1% of scores in their state. The semifinalists must then take the SAT and achieve a confirming score, and they must show a record of “consistently very high academic performance in all grades 9-12 and in any college course work taken” before being named as finalists.
About 15,000 finalists are identified nationwide. From among this pool of candidates, the National Merit Scholarship Corporation chooses 8,300 scholarship winners based on a review of their academic record, the curriculum and grading system of their high school, two sets of test scores, a written recommendation from the high school, the student's activities and leadership, and an essay written by the finalist. Winners of National Merit Scholarships are offered a $2,500 National Merit Scholarship good at any accredited college or university in the U.S. and may also be eligible for National Merit scholarships sponsored by foundations, professional associations, businesses and corporations, and colleges and universities.
Watauga High School has an enrollment of 1,450 students and is rated a NC School of Distinction based on academic proficiency and growth as measured by end-of-course test results and other measures of student achievement. The average SAT score at the high school is higher than the state and national average and the high school’s graduation rate of 85.4% is five percentage points above the statewide rate.