Friday, March 9, 2012

Mills and Valente Become Finalists in National Merit Scholarship Program


In February, Wells High School seniors Michael Valente and Jesse Mills were notified that they had become finalists in the 57th Annual National Merit Scholarship Program.

Each year, this program makes the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test or PSAT/NMSQT available to high school juniors throughout the United States in order for them to compete for scholarship money. From the initial group of 1.5 million test takers, 16,000 of the highest 50,000 scorers are later picked to become Semifinalists. After additional screening, 15,000 emerge as finalists.

According to the National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC), “more than half of the finalists will win a National Merit Scholarship, earning the Merit Scholar title.” In late May, Valente and Mills will learn if and how much scholarship money will be made available to them.

Mills is a member of the National Honor Society, the Math Team and plays club tennis, a non-varsity sport at WHS. Earlier in the school year Mills indicated that he would like to attend Haverford College. At present he is undecided about a college major. Mills is the son of Wesley Mills and Cheryl Dearman Mills of Wells.

Valente is the Treasurer for the Class of 2012 and for the National Honor Society chapter at WHS. Last fall Valente indicated that he would like to attend Boston University or Tufts University to major in pre-med. Valente is the son of Dawn Valente of Wells.

The National Merit Scholarship Program is administered by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation of Evanston Illinois. It is a non-profit corporation established in 1955. Scholarship money awarded by the NMSC comes largely from corporate and college sponsorship. According to NMSC’s website (, 10,400 students received 51 million in scholarships last year.

Taking the PSAT/NMSQT allows not only for the chance to receive a scholarship, but provides students with valuable experience for taking the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) in their senior year.

Photo Caption: National Merit Scholarship finalists, Michael Valente and Jesse Mills. (Photo courtesy of Lillian Lagasse)