The National Merit Scholarship Program is an academic competition for recognition and scholarships that began in 1955. High School students enter the National Merit Program by taking the PSAT/NMSQT-a test which serves as an initial screen of approximately 1.5 million entrants each year-and by meeting published program entry and participation requirements.
Of the 1.5 million entrants, some 50,000 with the highest PSAT/NMSQT Selection Index scores which consist of critical reading, mathematics, and writing skills qualify for recognition in the National Merit Scholarship Program. In April following the fall test administration, high-scoring participants are invited to name two colleges or universities to which they would like to be referred by NMSC. In September, these high scorers are notified through their schools that they have qualified as ether a Commended Student or Semifinalist.
In late September, about 16,000 students are notified that they have qualified as Semifinalists. Semifinalists must advance to Finalist standing in the competition by meeting high academic standards and show outstanding character and leadership qualities.
In February, some 15,000 Semifinalists are notified that they have advanced to Finalist standing. All winners of Merit Scholarship awards are chosen from the Finalist group, based on their abilities, skills, and accomplishments. Beginning in March, NMSC notifies approximately 8,300 Finalists that they have been selected as a National Merit Scholar and will receive one of three types of Merit Scholarship awards. This year, Miami High School has two National Merit Scholar recipients. We believe this is the first time in Miami High School history that we can boast two of these elite scholars. Spencer Neal will receive a National Merit Scholarship and Chris Anderson will receive a college-sponsored National Merit Scholarship from the University of Oklahama.
Spencer Neal is the son of Chuck and Ann Neal. In addition to being selected as a National Merit Scholar, Spencer is also an MHS Valedictorian, was selected for Academic All-State and the Joplin Globe All-Area Academic Team. He has been a member of the MHS Baseball team for four years and was selected for the 2011 Baseball All-Conference team. Spencer has also been a member of National Honor Society for two years, is a graduate of Youth Leadership Oklahoma Class of XI and a student at the Oklahoma School of Science and Math. Spencer plans to attend Washington University in St. Louis this fall.
Chris Anderson is the son of David and Beth Anderson. In addition to being selected as a National Merit Scholar, Chris is also an MHS Valedictorian. Chris has been a member of the MHS Wardog Marching Band for four years where he served as drum major for two years, was a member of the Sweepstakes Band in 2010-11, and attended the BCS National Championship in New Orleans. He has also been a member of National Honor Society for two years and a student at the Oklahoma School of Science and Math. Chris commented that the most challenging aspect of the journey for him was "dealing with the pressure I faced and preparing for the SAT and the pressure I placed upon himself to achieve a high score, ensuring I was on the right track." Chris plans on attending Oklahoma University in the fall and majoring in pre-med before attending medical school.