John Wesley Peters


Four students from Decatur, Hartselle and Limestone County received recognition Wednesday as semifinalists in the 67th annual National Merit Scholarship Program, which rewards students who show academic ability and potential for college success.

Local high school seniors recognized were Decatur High’s John Wesley Peters, Hartselle High’s Lauren Temples, East Limestone High’s Aaron Williams and home-school student Murray Callan from Athens.

There were approximately 16,000 semifinalists nationally, including more than 210 in Alabama. The annual scholarship program will award $30 million to 7,500 high school seniors across the United States in the spring. About 15,000 of the semifinalists are expected to advance to the finalist level. National Merit Scholarship winners will be selected from the finalists.

Peters said he is undecided as to which college he will attend, but sees graduate and law school in his future.

“I have earned mostly straight A’s through elementary, middle school, and now high school through my senior year,” said Peters. “Hopefully, I’ll keep it up through the rest of this school year.”

Peters is Decatur City Schools’ fifth semifinalist since the fall of 2018. Austin High students Parker Vandine and Drew Robinson were National Merit semifinalists two years ago. Decatur High’s John Moebes and David Walker were semifinalists three years ago. In 2016, the district had four semifinalists: George Brown and Claire Crane of Decatur High along with Bailey Burleson and Laura Ingouf at Austin.

Bob Jones High School and James Clemens High School in Madison had the most semifinalists in Alabama this year. Bob Jones had 19 and James Clemens had 18. Vestavia Hills High was third in the state with 13, and Hoover High had 11 semifinalists.

High school juniors entered the 2022 National Merit Scholarship Program by taking the 2020 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test, which served as an initial screen of program entrants. The nationwide pool of semifinalists, representing less than 1 percent of U.S. high school seniors, includes the highest-scoring entrants in each state. The number of semifinalists in a state is proportional to the state’s percentage of the national total of graduating seniors.

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