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More Good News From Schools: Five Gwinnett students win National Achievement Scholarship

Five Gwinnett County Public Schools students have been named recipients of the National Achievement Scholarship, which provides a $2,500 scholarship to outstanding black high school students considered as having the greatest potential for academic success in college.

The county recipients are Kirabo F. Herbert of Collins Hill High, Chidimma M. Ihenacho of Shiloh High, Candice A. Sherwood of Brookwood High, Nikkitta C. Sutton of Shiloh High and Natasha S. Walker of Norcross High.

These students join more than 800 seniors across the nation who will receive scholarships totaling more than $2.6 million as part of the 44th annual National Achievement Scholarship competition, conducted by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation.

The competition began when students took the 2006 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. Semifinalists were designated within geographic regions as the highest-scoring program entrants in the states that make up each region.

They advanced to the finalist level in the competition by filling out a detailed application, presenting a record of high academic performance throughout high school, being endorsed and recommended by the school principal and earning SAT scores that confirm the PSAT/NMSQT performance.

Achievement scholar honorees were selected from the finalists judged to have the strongest record of accomplishments.

Six students earn corporate-sponsored scholarships

Six Gwinnett County Public Schools students have received college financial assistance from a corporation, as they were named National Corporate-sponsored Merit Scholarship winners by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation.

These six high school seniors are part of a group of 1,100 students nationwide selected as recipients of the national honor:

* Jonathan E. DiGioia of Brookwood High - National Merit BellSouth Scholarship

* Kara N. Finnegan of North Gwinnett High - National Merit McKesson Scholarship

* Joshua A. Job of Dacula High - National Merit Scientific-Atlanta, Inc. Scholarship

* Jorge L. Nessi of Mill Creek High - National Merit Ethicon Scholarship

* Aditya Shrivastava of Peachtree Ridge High - National Merit Scientific-Atlanta, Inc. Scholarship

* Stephanie E. Swart of Norcross High - National Merit SAP America Scholarship

These students were selected from a pool of finalists in the 2008 National Merit Scholarship Program who met the criteria of their scholarship sponsors. Corporate organizations generally provide awards for finalists who are children of their employees, residents of communities the company serves, or have plans to pursue majors or careers the grantor wishes to encourage. About 200 companies, foundations and other business organizations finance these scholarships.

Most of the awards are renewable for up to four years of college undergraduate study and provide annual stipends that range from $500 to $10,000 per year.

More than 1.4 million students entered the competition last school year as juniors by taking the 2006 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test, which served as the initial screening for program entrants.

As the highest scoring entrants in each state, these academically talented students were then invited to apply for a finalist spot. That level was determined by looking at the student's academic record throughout high school, an endorsement or recommendation by the school principal, and a self descriptive essay and information about their participation and leadership in school and community activities.

The scholarship recipients can use their award at any regionally accredited U.S. college or university of their choice.

Heather Darenberg writes about education. More Good News From Schools appears online Mondays.