Several area students are one step closer to receiving a hefty scholarship through the National Merit Scholarship Program.

The National Merit Scholarship Corporation announced the 2013 semifinalists Wednesday. The 2013 National Merit Semifinalists from Eastern Jackson County are:

Blue Springs South – Bailey Barnett, Trevor Bishop, Miranda Cooper, Connor Dillon, Ross Dryer, Abigail Kucera and Brendan Smith.

Grain Valley – Katricia Herring.

Independence (Homeschool) - James Tandy.

Lee’s Summit (Homeschool) - Joanna Gossell.

Lee’s Summit North – Sam Dowd, Hedi Simpson and Evan Weidner.

Lee’s Summit High School – Kyle Angle and Andrew Jarnevic.

Lee’s Summit West – Anna Poudel.

Summit Christian Academy - Samuel Holland.

Approximately 16,000 students were selected in this round in the 59th annual National Merit program. These students will now compete for 8,000 National Merit Scholarships that are worth more than $35 million. About 90 percent of students who are selected as semifinalists are expected to reach the finalists round. More than half of these students will win a National Merit Scholarship and the Merit Scholar title.

Semifinalists are chosen from about 1.5 million juniors who took the 2012 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. This exam served as the initial screening process for program participants. The highest scoring entrants in each state were then recognized as semifinalists. The number of semifinalists in each state is proportional to the state’s percentage of graduating seniors.

To advance to the finalist level, semifinalists will have to have an outstanding academic record throughout their high school career, receive a recommendation by their high school principal, earn SAT scores that confirm their earlier performance on the PSAT and submit an application and an essay that demonstrates the student’s leadership in school and community activities.

Approximately 15,000 semifinalists will be selected to become a finalist. Beginning in April, scholarship winners will be announced. Three types of scholarships are available – National Merit Scholarships, worth $2,500 each; corporate-sponsored Merit Scholarships and college/university Merit Scholarships.