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Three from RHHS National Merit semifinalists
National Merit 004
From left, Mark Mondt, Mason Murphy, Richmond Hill High School principal Debi McNeal and Braden Chapman. - photo by Ted O'Neil

Richmond Hill seniors Braden Chapman, Mark Mondt and Mason Murphy have qualified as National Merit Scholarship semifinalists, the National Merit Scholarship Corp. announced today. They now have an opportunity to compete for some 7,500 scholarships worth $33 million that will be offered in the spring.

“This is huge to have three of them,” said Debi McNeal, principal at RHHS. “It’s a great acknowledgement as there aren’t many in this area.”

Three students from Chatham County, including one homeschooler, are the only other semifinalists in the adjacent counties.

Chapman, a Richmond Hill native, is looking at attending either Georgia Tech or UGA and wants to major in some discipline of engineering.

Mondt, who moved here two years ago, is considering Texas A&M and Duke and wants to major in psychology or possibly physics.

Murphy, a Richmond Hill resident since sixth grade, is also looking at Georgia Tech for engineering.

All three are also involved in extracurricular activities, with Chapman and Murphy playing tennis while Mondt plays French horn in the band.

Chapman and Murphy both pointed to Joe Traywick as a favorite teacher, whom they both had for AP chemistry, while Mondt enjoyed physics with Sarah Lemmons.

National Merit semifinalists come from about 1.6 million juniors who take the PSAT. The highest scoring entrants in each state, about 1 percent of seniors, become eligible to be semifinalists. SAT scores and a detailed application that includes a semifinalist’s academic record, participation in school and community activities, leadership and honors along with an essay and administrators’ recommendations determine finalists.

About 15,000 semifinalists are expected to advance to the finalist level and will be notified in February. Finalists are selected for accomplishments as well as potential for success in college.

Every finalist competes for one of 2,500 National Merit $2,500 scholarships, and some 230 companies provide 1,000 scholarships to finalists who meet specific criteria, such as children of employees or residents of communities where sponsor companies are located. An additional 4,000 scholarships financed by 190 colleges and universities also are available. 

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