Seven St. Johnsbury Academy juniors have cleared the first hurdle in the 2013 National Merit Scholarship Competition.

David Fickes of Peacham, Nora Gair from Lancaster, N.H., Jennifer Hastings of Monroe, N.H., Plainfield resident Clare Neal, Thomas Nowicki of St. Johnsbury, Daniel Sattelberger of Waterford, and Nathaniel Solnit from Bath, N.H. are among approximately 50,000 students nationwide who scored in the top five percent of 1.5 million entrants taking the 2011 Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test, which serves as an initial screen of applicants for National Merit Scholarships.

Students achieving top five percent status qualify for the Merit Scholarship program's College Plans Reporting Service, which provides referrals to two United States colleges or universities in which qualifiers are particularly interested.

About 16,000 of the College Plans Reporting Service qualifiers will later be named National Merit Scholarship semifinalists, representing the top scorers in each state. The program will award approximately 8,300 scholarships in 2013.

Additional information about the National Merit Scholarship program is available through its Website, www.nationalmerit.org.

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