Four seniors at Ashland High School were named National Merit Semifinalists Monday.

Four seniors at Ashland High School were named National Merit Semifinalists Monday.

Sam Fleuter, Miles Nerenberg, Jeffrey Star and Forrest Wells joined the ranks of 16,000 high school seniors named semifinalists in the annual National Merit Scholarship Program. They are eligible to compete for some 8,200 scholarships worth $35 million that will be offered next spring.

More than 1.5 million students entered the competition by taking the 2007 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test last fall. To become a finalist, students must have an outstanding academic record, be recommended by their high school principal and earn SAT scores that confirm their earlier performance on the qualifying test.

Ashland High School boasts several semifinalists every year. The graduating class of 2008 had six semifinalists, two of whom went on to be named National Merit Scholars.