Three of the nine CVHS students have since received National Merit Scholarships. Ka Lim Chung received a $2,500 scholarship from University of California, Berkley; Brian Goo received a $2,000 scholarship from Northwestern University; and Eunice Lim received a $2,500 scholarship from the University of Pennsylvania.
The National Merit Award was established in 1955 as an academic competition that would provide recognition and scholarships. Usually in their junior year, students take the PSAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test, a precursor to the SAT that also serves as a qualifying exam for the National Merit Scholarship program. Approximately 1.3 million high school students take the test each year.
In April, 50,000 students with the highest scores on the PSAT qualify for recognition in the National Merit Scholarship Program. The students are asked to name two colleges or universities they would like to be referred to by the National Merit Scholarship Committee. The universities and colleges sponsor the scholarship program. By September the high scoring students are notified as to whether they will be recognized as a Commended Students or Semifinalists.
Approximately 34,000 out of the 50,000 top-scoring students nationwide are recognized as Commended Students. They receive letters of commendation in recognition of their outstanding academic promise but will not continue in the National Merit Scholarship award competition.
The remaining one-third of the 50,000 students, or 16,000 students, are named semifinalists and compete to be finalists by completing a 500-word essay describing who they are and their goals, submitting a letter of recommendation written by a high school counselor and showing academic excellence, according to CVHS counselor secretary Cheryl Mulvoy. She adds that their school records must show that each student has participated in community service and has no discipline problems.
In February 2004, approximately 15,000 semifinalists nationwide were notified that they had become finalists. The nine CVHS students were then honored at the school board meeting on June 8.