Cape Girardeau, Mo — The principal, Tim R.Garner, of Notre Dame Regional High School announced that Claire Southard has been named a National Merit $2,500 Scholarship Winner.   The 2,500 Merit Scholar designees were chosen from a talent pool of some 16,000 outstanding Finalists in the 2021 National Merit Scholarship Program.

National Merit $2500 Scholarship winners are the Finalists in each state judged to have the strongest combination of accomplishments, skills, and potential for success in rigorous college studies. The number of winners named in each state is proportional to the state’s percentage of the nation’s graduating high school seniors.

These Scholars were selected by a committee of college admissions officers and high school counselors, who appraised a substantial amount of information submitted by both the Finalists and their high schools: the academic record, including difficulty level of subjects, studied and grades earned; scores from the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT®); contributions and leadership in school and community activities; an essay written by the Finalist; and a recommendation written by a high school official.

NMSC finances most of these single-payment National Merit $2500 Scholarships. Corporations and company foundations that sponsor awards through NMSC also help underwrite these scholarships with grants they provide in lieu of paying administrative fees. Scholars may use their awards at any regionally accredited U.S. college or university.

2021 National Merit Scholarship Competition

This year’s National Merit Scholarship Program began in October 2019 when over 1.5 million juniors in about 21,000 high schools took the PSAT/NMSQT, which served as an initial screen of program entrants. Last fall, the highest-scoring participants in each state, representing less than one percent of the nation’s high school seniors, were named Semifinalists on a state-representational basis. Only these approximately 17,000 Semifinalists had an opportunity to continue in the competition.

From the Semifinalist group, some 16,000 students met the very high academic standards and other requirements to advance to the Finalist level of the competition. By the conclusion of the 2021 program, about 7,500 Finalists will have earned the “Merit Scholar” title and received a total of nearly $30 million in college scholarships.

NMSC, a not-for-profit corporation that operates without government assistance, was founded in 1955 specifically to conduct the National Merit Scholarship Program. The majority of scholarships offered each year are underwritten by approximately 400 independent corporate and college sponsors that share NMSC’s goals of honoring scholastically talented youth and encouraging academic excellence at all levels of education.

Claire is the daughter of Stephen and Julie Southard of Cape Girardeau.  Claire is the President of the National Honor Society, Vice President of the Spanish National Honor Society, and member of the French National Honor Society and the Tri-M Music Honor Society.   She is the Team Captain of the Varsity Scholar Bowl Team and a member of the Varsity Girls Tennis Team with All-District, All-Conference, All-Southeast Missouri, and All-State honors.  She has participated in the Notre Dame Band for four years as well as the District Honor Band, District Music Festival, and State Music Festival along with top ratings achieved through MSHSAA music competitions.  Claire has earned a Christian Service Award the past three years, and she is a member of the French Club, the Quill and Scroll Club, and the Peer Tutoring Program.  She was recently named Valedictorian of the Class of 2021 and will be attending the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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