Local students from Beatrice, Fairbury and Firth were named among the 16,000 semifinalists in the 63rd annual National Merit Scholarship Program.

Tessa Hoffman of Beatrice High School, Ashley Griffee of Fairbury High School and Calla Sullivan of Norris High School will have the opportunity to continue in the competition for scholarships that will be offered next spring.

A total of 7,500 National Merit Scholarships, worth more than $32 million, will be awarded to winners next year.

Usually, around 90 percent of semifinalists go on to become finalists. Then, about half of the finalists are chosen to win a National Merit Scholarship and the Merit Scholar title.

More than one million juniors entered in the 2018 National Merit Scholarship Program by taking the qualifying test. Semifinalists are chosen nation-wide and represent less than 1 percent of high school seniors—the highest-scoring entrants in each state.

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