Wilton High School students Rachel Pak and Derek Thomas were named finalists in the 2016 National Merit Scholarship Program on Tuesday, Feb. 16.

The seniors are two of the approximately 15,000 students to meet all requirements to advance to finalist standing in the 61st annual National Merit Scholarship Program.

To advance to the finalist level, each semifinalist and his or her school need to submit a detailed scholarship application detailing:


  • An outstanding high school academic record.

  • School and community activity participation.

  • Demonstration of leadership ability.

  • Employment.

  • Honors and awards received.


Each semifinalist also needed the endorsement and recommendation of a high school official, write an essay, and earn SAT scores that confirm his or her earlier performance on the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test.

Rachel and Thomas are eligible for National Merit Scholarship recognition, which will be awarded this spring, and will have an opportunity to continue competing for some 7,400 National Merit Scholarships worth more than $32 million.

According to the National Merit Scholarship Corporation, about half of the finalists will win a National Merit Scholarship and be named Merit Scholars.

Last year, five Wilton High School students were named semifinalists. Two of the five — Evaline Xie and Grace Nickel — were named 2015 Merit Scholars and each received $2,500 scholarships.

Click here to learn more about the National Merit Scholarship Program.