Officials with the National Merit Scholarship Corporation have announced the names of approximately 7,500 finalists in the 64th annual National Merit Scholarship Program.

All six Western Reserve Academy semifinalists have advanced to finalist status.

Distinguished students include seniors Leila Darwiche, Matthew Bloom, Andrew Song, Hanley Jefferis, Amy Zhou and Thomas Wagner (pictured), who were standouts among the 1.6 million applicants who submitted for the scholarships earlier this academic year — now, they advance to an impressive pool where fewer than .05 percent of applicants across the U.S. have the chance for this esteemed designation.

In total, 14 WRA students were recognized this year in the National Merit Scholarship Program — nine commended students and six finalists. The senior class at WRA includes 112 students.

The National Merit Scholarship Program honors students who show exceptional academic ability and potential for great success in college. The finalists now have the opportunity to win 7,500 scholarships awarding more than $32 million for college aid.

"These exceptionally talented WRA students excel not only academically, but in their passions outside of the classroom. This recognition is a tribute to their hard work and dedication. We look forward to their continued success in the future," said Director of College Counseling Gunnar Olson.

Over the past two years, Reserve has implemented a new independent curriculum focused on delivering a distinctive high school journey and top college destinations. The independent curriculum includes the move beyond Advanced Placement ourses to highest level courses dubbed "College Level." CL courses end the imperative to teach to the test, offering greater depth, flexibility and collaboration in the classroom.

The independent curriculum also includes a schedule built for balance, opportunities to optimize the school’s Wang Innovation Center across subjects and a Literacies program supported by the E.E. Ford Foundation. Special programs such as Compass encourage students to pursue a passion and develop a project surrounding it on the path to learning and distinction in the college application process. WRA’s students attend top colleges in the U.S. and internationally.

The winners of the 2019 National Merit Scholarships will be announced in the spring.

Join WRA for its spring open house April 27. Learn more at wra.net/springopenhouse.