PHS senior named National Merit finalist

Officials of National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) announced the finalists for the 62nd annual National Merit Scholarship Program. Petal High School senior Ethan Morris was the only student selected from Petal High School.

“Petal High School has greatly influenced the choices I have made concerning my future,” Morris said. “I have been well-prepared to compete academically. Also, I have benefited from the examples of strong leadership, such as JROTC instructor, SGM Dubose. I give thanks to God for my accomplishments and the opportunity to fulfill my dreams. I also want to thank my family for their love and support.”

Students in the ninth, 10th and 11th grades have the opportunity to take the PSAT (Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying test). The score from 11th grade is submitted for review, and the highest scores are filtered out.

“About 15,000 of the highest scorers of the millions tested will be selected and recognized as a National Merit Scholarship Semifinalist,” Morris said after being recognized as a semifinalist.

To be considered as a finalist, he submitted an application for the opportunity.

“It was a great honor just to be chosen as a semifinalist and I was very pleased when I was notified of my status as a semifinalist,” Morris said.

As a finalist, Morris will be up for numerous scholarships for college.

“My parents have always been the ones who have motivated me academically,” he has said. “Even from a young age, they set high standards for me and this motivated me to set high standards for myself.”

Morris also credits teachers and administrators in the Petal School District with his success.

“They believe in me and are just as excited as I am about possibly being selected as a National Merit Finalist,” he said.

The high school seniors will have the opportunity to continue to compete for 7,500 National Merit Scholarships that will be offered in the spring, which total approximately $33 million.

Many requirements had to be fulfilled to be considered for one of these scholarships and advance to the finalist level.

Approximately 90 percent of semifinalists make it to the finalist level, and half of those will win a National Merit Scholarship.

According to NMSC, the organization is a non-profit that operates without government assistance and was established in 1955.

The program honors individual students who show exceptional academic ability and potential for success in rigorous college studies. The program does not measure the quality or effectiveness of education within a school, system, or state. For more information about the competition, please visit NMSC’s website at

Approximately 1.6 million juniors from more than 22,000 high schools across the nation entered the 2017 National Merit Scholarship Program. According to NMSC, the nationwide pool of semifinalists represents less than one percent of U.S. high school seniors and includes the highest-scoring entrants in each state.

A semifinalist must submit a scholarship application, which details their academic record, participation in school and community activities, demonstrated leadership abilities, employment, and honors and awards received. An academic record throughout high school, recommendations from high school officials, an essay and SAT scores that reflect the qualifying test’s score are required to be considered for the finalist level.

More than 323,000 students in previous years have earned the Merit Scholar title.

Established in 1955, National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) is an independent, not-for-profit organization that operates without government assistance.

NMSC is exempt from taxation under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code and contributions to NMSC are tax deductible by the donor. NMSC conducts the National Merit® Scholarship Program, an annual academic competition for recognition and college undergraduate scholarships. Additionally, from 1965 to 2015, NMSC conducted the National Achievement® Scholarship Program, an academic competition for Black American high school students. (See the National Achievement Scholarship Program page for information about the program and its history.)

NMSC's goals have remained constant since its inception:

• to identify and honor academically talented U.S. high school students

• to stimulate increased support for their education

to provide efficient and effective program management for organizations who wish to sponsor college undergraduate scholarships