Four Hardin County Schools seniors and one Elizabethtown High School senior who earned National Merit Semifinalist status last September now are National Merit Finalists.

Central Hardin High School’s Garrett Ashlock, Alyssa Davis and Robert Sego, John Hardin High School’s Lily Vowels and Elizabethtown High School’s Mary Katherine Godfrey are among the nation’s top 15,000 students. Vowels and Sego are students at the Gatton Academy at Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green.

The National Merit Scholarship Program is an academic competition for recognition and scholarships that began in 1955, according to the program’s website. High school students enter the National Merit Program by taking the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test — a test which serves as an initial screen of approximately 1.5 million entrants each year — and by meeting a published program entry and participation requirements.

Of the 1.5 million entrants, about 50,000 with the highest PSAT/NMSQT scores qualify for recognition in the National Merit Scholarship Program. About 15,000 semifinalists are notified that they advanced to finalist standing.

Winners of Merit Scholarship awards are chosen from the finalist group based on their abilities, skills and accomplishments. Selectors to evaluate the finalists’ academic records, information about their schools’ curricula and grading system, two sets of test scores, high school officials’ written recommendation, information about the students’ activities and leadership and the finalists’ essays, according to a news release.

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