Scores of area high school seniors have earned semifinalist or commended student status from the National Merit Scholarship Program  this year.

The designations are based on scores from the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test, a mouthful of an acronymn known as PSAT/NMSQT in education circles. The test is taken during the students’ junior year; more than 1.4 million juniors took it in 2006.

The 16,000 semifinalists, which are less than 1 percent of U.S. high school seniors, must have an outstanding academic record, be endorsed and recommended by the school principal, and earn high SAT scores that confirm the students’ test performance. Following their identification, each semifinalist and a school official must submit a detailed scholarship application, which includes an essay and information about the student’s participation and leadership in school and community activities. From that pool, approximately 15,000 will advance to finalist standing and be considered for merit scholarship awards, which are announced in April.

The South Coast honorees are:

Bishop Diego High
Commended Student: Mitchell Hawkes

Dos Pueblos High
National Merit Semifinalists: Erika Bildsten, Kevin Cheng, Julia Cooperman, Isobel Dewey and Sarah Ellsworth, Isaiah Lin, Scott Martinis, Joseph McDaniel, Rachael McPhail, John Riggs, Leah Savage, Wei Wu and Nicole Zok
Commended Students: Ryan Beall, Geoffery Bell, Einar Birnir, Kristin Boehm, Christina Bonsell, William Campbell, Anthony Demaria, Alexander Dunn, Erika Eskenazi, Patrick Fay, David Herschorn, Leslie Hill, Dana Iltis, Aria Jacobsen, Wei Jiang, Trevor Johnson, Robert Kim, Yena Kim, Trevor Kosmo, Jack Lander, Matthew Logan, Kayla Mark, Jessica Nelson, Jeannette Senn, Daniel Turvey and Cassidy Yost

Laguna Blanca School
National Merit Semifinalists: Andrew L. Judson and Nathaniel B. Oliver
Commended Students: Catherine B. Carbone, Gregory A. Passani and Sean E. Shoemaker

San Marcos High
National Merit Semifinalists: Justin Feng, Kristin Hempy, Alexander Kayfetz-Gaum, Nari Miller, Landon Ranck and Kristen Sharer
Commended Students: Gabriel Burnworth, Alessandra Chardon, Kenneth Hasegawa, Trevor Hillebrand, Jonathan Kuhn, William McBride, Valerie Mehlschau, Julie Srednicki, Brenda Welsh and Claire Woodard

Santa Barbara High
National Merit Semifinalists: Cole Patterson and Brett Silverman
Commended Students: William Cross, Amber Ha, Dinah Parker, Nancy Phelps, Jonathan Ring, Maxwell Ronci, Jacqueline Rotman, Brian Rowse, Michael Salvucci, Mary Stilwell, David Weiss and Anthony Yoshimura