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Newberg High School senior Colin Bolek earns a place among some of the top students in the country

A Newberg student in the Class of 2021 is inching closer to a national honor reserved for a select few after being named a semifinalist in the National Merit Scholarship Program.

The announcement, which came on Sept. 9, named 16,000 students from around the country in the program's 66th year. Newberg High School senior Colin Bolek was among them.

"These academically talented high school seniors have an opportunity to continue in the competition for some 7,600 National Merit Scholarships worth more than $30 million that will be offered next spring," read a release from the national organization. "To be considered for a Merit Scholarship award, semifinalists must fulfill several requirements to advance to the finalist level of the competition. Over 90 percent of the semifinalists are expected to attain finalist standing, and more than half of the finalists will win a National Merit Scholarship, earning the Merit Scholar title.

"NMSC, a not-for-profit organization that operates without government assistance, was established in 1955 specifically to conduct the annual National Merit Scholarship Program. Scholarships are underwritten by NMSC with its own funds and by approximately 400 business organizations and higher education institutions that share NMSC's goals of honoring the nation's scholastic champions and encouraging the pursuit of academic excellence," the release added.

Finalists will compete for one of 2,500 merit scholarships worth $2,500 apiece, given out by the program and financed by some of the nation's largest corporations.

Of the 16,000 semifinalists, fewer than 15,000 will become finalists, with the announcement coming in February and scholarships awarded later in the spring.

"To become a finalist, the semifinalist and a high school official must submit a detailed scholarship application, in which they provide information about the semifinalist's academic record, participation in school and community activities, demonstrated leadership abilities, employment and honors and awards received," the release said. "A semifinalist must have an outstanding academic record throughout high school, be endorsed and recommended by a high school official and write an essay."

For more information on the program, visit

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