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Fort Smith Schools Students Named 2021 National Merit Scholarship Semifinalists

Four students from Fort Smith Public Schools have been named 2021 National Merit Scholarship Semifinalists by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC). 

  • Jaicie Clayton, Southside High School
    • Daughter of Dr. Justin and Jaidi Clayton
  • Jackson Hannan, Southside High School
    • Son of Jeff Hannan Jennifer Little
  • Jackson Minnick, Southside High School 
    • Son of Mark and Autumn Minnick (FSPS teachers) 
  • Haris Rana, Southside High School
    • Son of Javed and Sara Rana

National Merit Semifinalists FSPS

There are approximately 16,000 Semifinalists in the 66th annual National Merit Scholarship Program. The nationwide pool of Semifinalists represent less than 1% of U.S. high school seniors.

Clayton, Hannan, Minnick and Rana will have an opportunity to become finalists, continuing in the competition for some 7,600 National Merit Scholarships worth more than $30 million. To be considered for a Merit Scholarship® award, Semifinalists must fulfill several requirements to advance to the Finalist level of the competition. Over 90 percent of the Semifinalists are expected to attain Finalist standing, and more than half of the Finalists will win a National Merit Scholarship, earning the Merit Scholar® title.

“It brings a great sense of pride to see students receive this prestigious recognition within The National Merit Scholarship Program. FSPS has provided opportunities with programs like the Superintendent Scholars to encourage and extend learning for these bright students wishing to travel the path to become a National Merit Finalist,” said Dr. Ginni McDonald, Director of Secondary Education, Fort Smith Public Schools. 

“I couldn’t be prouder of these students. They’ve worked so hard, and to see the rewards of their hard work, it’s very humbling to me. I am so proud of their efforts,” said Dr. Lisa Miller, Southside High School Principal. 

“It’s a blessing. It really is an accumulation of all the years that I’ve worked hard to keep my grades up, to prep for tests and execute on test days. I have an older brother who was in the same position last year and I saw how it benefited him and I hope it will benefit me as well,” said Jackson Hannan, FSPS Student.

“I am really excited to have this opportunity; I think mainly it’s because of the great instruction I’ve received at Southside and previous schools. I’m a little surprised I’ve been able to accomplish this much and I’m thankful to those who helped me get this far,” said Jackson Minnick, FSPS Student. 

“It’s an incredible honor. I think it’s the culmination of not just my efforts, but the efforts of the teachers and mentors who stood behind me. We actually had a program to help students prepare for the PSAT, and so having that experience definitely prepared me to the best of my ability to take the test. I’m really excited for what’s in store,” said Haris Rana, FSPS Student.

To become a Finalist, the Semifinalist and a high school official must submit a detailed scholarship application, in which they provide information about the Semifinalists’ academic record, participation in school and community activities, demonstrated leadership abilities, employment, and honors and awards received. A Semifinalist must have an outstanding academic record throughout high school, be endorsed and recommended by a high school official, and write an essay.

National Merit Scholarship winners of 2021 will be announced in four nationwide news releases beginning in April and concluding in July.