WARREN, NJ – Six seniors at Watchung Hills Regional High School (WHRHS) have been named National Merit finalists, and two have been named also as U.S. Presidential Scholars.


Claire Yuxuan Chen, Emily K. Kim, Kunwoo Park, Eric Zhu and Henry Zhu, all of Warren Township, and Isis M. Zhang of Stirling were named as National Merit finalists and  Claire Yuxuan Chen and Isis M. Zhang were also named as U.S. Presidential Scholars.


In September, the National Merit Program named some 1,600 National Merit semifinalists across the country, and typically, about 90 percent of the semifinalists go on to be selected as finalists. All six semifinalists at WHRHS have now been named finalists.

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The semifinalists qualified as a result of scores in the PSAT NMSQT (Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test), taken during the fall of junior year. In addition, other factors are considered, such as classroom work as verified by an official school transcript, and SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test) scores. 

The selection of some 7,400 National Merit Scholarship winners, will take place this spring. Scholarship offers will be mailed to winners at their home address and confidential notification will be sent to their principals.


The U.S. Presidential Scholars Program, which was started by Executive Order of President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964, to recognize some of the nation’s most distinguished graduating seniors. It was expanded in 1979 by President Jimmy Carter to recognize students who demonstrate exceptional talent in the visual, creative and performing arts. It was extended further in 2015 by President Barack Obama to recognize students who demonstrate ability and accomplishment in career and technical education fields.

Each year up to 161 are named U.S. Presidential Scholars, out of some 4,000 who are nominated. The majority of the scholars are selected on the basis of broad academic achievement. About 20 students are selected on the basis of their academic and artistic scholarship in the visual arts, the performing arts, or creative writing. Beginning this year, about another 10 students will be chosen on the basis of their ability and accomplishment in career and technical education fields.