Williamson County Schools announced Wednesday that it has hit an all-time high in the number of National Merit semifinalists, tallying nearly 20 more students than its previous high of 53.

For 2021, 72 WCS students were named semifinalists by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation. The district's previous record of 53 was originally set in 2018 and again in 2020. Of the 1.5 million students to enter the program, only around 16,000 reach the level of semifinalist. 

"Congratulations to these students as well as the teachers and staff who have worked with them along their educational journey," WCS Superintendent Jason Golden said in a press release. "This achievement will open many doors for them in the future."

High school students enter the National Merit Program by taking the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. In February, any semifinalist who has been selected as a National Merit Scholarship finalist will be notified. The Merit Scholarship winners will then be chosen from the finalists.

"The accomplishment of exceeding 70 National Merit semifinalists is further evidence that our students are learning and achieving at very high levels, even during challenging times," said Leigh Webb, WCS assistant superintendent of Secondary Schools. "We are very proud of the continued focus and perseverance of our students and teachers."

To become a finalist, the semifinalist and their high school must submit an application including information about the semifinalist’s academic record, participation in school and community activities, demonstrated leadership abilities, employment and any honors and awards they received.

See photos of the semifinalists in the gallery on this page, and see a full list of the students on the WCS InFocus website.