CUYAHOGA FALLS — A student from Cuyahoga Falls High School, a student from the Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy and two students from Walsh Jesuit were recently named National Merit Semifinalists.

The students are now eligible to compete to be finalists, and for part of $4 million in scholarship money.

Local students include Cuyahoga Falls High School student Meredith C. Gallagher, Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy student Emerson H. McSparran, and Walsh Jesuit students Leah V. Smith and George R. Zografakis.

"I was kind of surprised, but my counselor and teachers were all excited about it," said Meredith.

Meredith said she hadn't decided for sure on a course of study for college but she had in interest in many topics, including environmental science and history.

Emerson said she was "really excited" to be a semifinalist.

"I took it so long ago I'd forgotten about it until it came up," Emerson said. "It was exciting, though."

Both of her parents are teachers at the Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy, Emerson said. She said that she was leaning towards studying psychology "and do research in that area."

Neither Leah nor George could be reached for comment.

There were about 16,000 semifinalists named nationwide in the 65th annual National Merit Scholarship Program. Students named will have an opportunity to continue in the competition for some 7,600 National Merit Scholarships worth more than $31 million that will be offered in the spring.

To be considered for a Merit Scholarship® award, Semifinalists must fulfill several requirements to advance to the Finalist level of the competition. More than 90 percent of the Semifinalists are expected to attain Finalist standing, and about half of the Finalists will win a National Merit Scholarship, earning the Merit Scholar® title.

Three types of National Merit Scholarships will be offered in the spring of 2020. Every Finalist will compete for one of 2,500 National Merit® $2500 Scholarships that will be awarded on a state-representational basis.

About 1,000 corporate-sponsored Merit Scholarship awards will be provided by approximately 220 corporations and business organizations for Finalists who meet their specified criteria, such as children of the grantor’s employees or residents of communities where sponsor plants or offices are located. In addition, about 180 colleges and universities are expected to finance some 4,100 college-sponsored Merit Scholarship awards for Finalists who will attend the sponsor institution.

National Merit Scholarship winners of 2020 will be announced in four nationwide news releases beginning in April and concluding in July. These scholarship recipients will join more than 345,000 other distinguished young people who have earned the Merit Scholar title.

Reporter April Helms can be reached at 330-541-9423,, or @AprilKHelms_RPC