McALLEN – Two McAllen ISD students, Marcus Shimotsu of McAllen High School and Naoki Eto of McAllen Memorial High School, were recognized as National Merit Scholar Finalists at a McAllen School Board meeting Feb. 21. Only about 15,000 of 1.4 million students who take a national standardized test become recognized as National Merit Scholar Finalists.

McAllen ISD has had seven students named as finalists in the past five years. In fact, McAllen ISD students received 63 different honors from the National Merit Scholarship program in fall 2010, the Advanced Placement Scholar awards and the National Hispanic Scholar awards.

Established in 1955, the National Merit Scholarship Program is an academic competition for recognition and scholarships.

The National Merit Scholarship program is an academic competition for recognition and scholarships.

High school students enter this program by taking the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. The highest scoring entrants in each state qualify as Semifinalists. The National Merit Scholarship Competition provides scholarship application materials to Semifinalists through their high schools. To be considered for a National Merit® Scholarship, Semifinalists must advance to Finalist standing in the competition by meeting high academic standards and all other requirements explained in the materials provided to each Semifinalist. Students are notified in February.

While there is no monetary award for these honors, the students are acknowledged on grade reports that are sent to the colleges. Students may earn Advanced Placement (AP) distinctions their junior year and then again their senior year.

Nearly 1,000 students participated in taking AP classes and tests, in McAllen ISD in 2009-10. Of these, 38 students in McAllen ISD have earned AP Scholar Awards in recognition of their exceptional achievement on AP Exams. This honor is granted to students who scored a three or higher on three or more AP exams.