Six students representing three area high schools are competing to be among the 7,500 National Merit Scholarship winners to be announced sometime later this month.

Two students each from Jackson, Lake and North Canton Hoover high schools are in the running for the annual scholarships.

Seniors named finalists in the 62nd National Merit Scholarship competition are:

- Julie Hartnett and Eli Abboud of Jackson High School;

- Conner Delahanty and David Klopfer of Lake High School;

- and Matthew Polatas and Jack Rathbun of Hoover High School.

Hoover High School

Rathbun has 4.521 weighted GPA. At Hoover, he is involved in the following activities: President of the Gay-Straight Alliance, Band section leader and drum major, speech and debate, National Honor Society, Leadership/Interact Club, Model UN, Academic Challenge, Literary Magazine editor, MOSAIC club and ski club.

Polatas has a 4.624 weighted GPA. He has been involved in numerous activities at Hoover including cross country, where he was a team captain; track and field; Academic Challenge, team captain; National Honor Society, president; Leadership Interact Club; Model UN; Math Club; Spanish Club; Chemistry Club; YMCA basketball; church youth group; and Sideliners concession stand and Humane Society volunteer.

Jackson High School

Harnett has a 5.1 GPA. She is involved in cross country, varsity basketball and varsity lacrosse. Harnett also is president of National Honor Society, vice president of Spanish Honor Society and Student Council Class Secretary, a lead freshmen mentor, a member of the Federal League Student Athlete Group, a member of Fellowship of Christian Athletes and a peer tutor. 

"I actually found out I was a finalist when our principal came into our basketball practice to announce it," said Harnett in an email. "I was extremely surprised and excited .It had been so long since I submitted my application that I had lost a lot of hope in moving forward. But I'm very grateful that I did."

Abboud has a 5.53 GPA. He is founder and director of the history club at Jackson, CEO of the business club, director of Open Waters Math and Science Center, speech and debate state champion, black belt in karate, American Legion Boys Nation senator and has volunteered more than 200 hours with Mercy Medical Center, and in so, he received the Presidential Volunteer Service Award. Abboud will attend either Vanderbilt or Case Western Reserve on a full scholarship.

Abboud described what it means to him to be a finalist for this award.

"It is a true honor," said Abboud, in an email. "Also, after having taking a seemingly endless number of standardized tests with the College Board (the company that administers the PSAT and coordinates this competition) in the past, it is definitely refreshing to finally be getting something in return."

Lake High School

Delahanty has 4.47 GPA and is ranked second in his class. He is involved in STEM, including collaboration with Goodyear to program the blimp for Lake football game; Gen Yes Program, National Honor Society, secretary; Academic Challenge, varsity captain; cross country, All-Ohio first team, Federal League and Stark County Runner of the Year; competes in track and field, orchestra, chamber orchestra and music program at Holy Spirit Church; sixth-grade camp counselor; Blessing Bag Project; cross country timer and meet volunteer; and Challenger Baseball and Exceptional Olympics volunteer.

Klopfer has a 4.46 GPA and is ranked sixth in his class. He is a member of the Lake soccer and swim teams, National Honor Society, Academic Challenge, Brian Bee and has gone a mission trip to Guatemala.

"Both Conner and David have not only distinguished themselves as outstanding scholars, they have both provided exemplary leadership in their athletic and extra-curricular activities as students at Lake High School," said Lake Principal Dan Harold. "These are two young men who are gentlemen at all times, and they are tremendous advertisements of all of the great things happening in our school and community. All of us are extremely proud of them."

About the competition

Every finalist is competing for one of 2,500 National Merit $2,500 scholarships as well as nearly 1,000 corporate-sponsored Merit Scholarship awards that are provided by corporations and business organizations for finalists that meet special criteria.

Less than 1 percent of the approximately 1.6 million students who enter are named finalists for the scholarships, which total $35 million

To be considered, students must enter the National Merit Program by takig the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying test (PSAT/NMSQT). Semifinalists are required to submit a detailed scholarship application that includes information about extracurricular achievements, awards and leadership positions. Semifinalists also have to have an outstanding academic record, be endorsed and recommended by a school official and earn SAT scores that confirm their qualifying test performance.

From there, a number of semifinalists - which varies from year-to-year - advance as finalists. By the conclusion, a select number of finalists are chosen to receive a National Merit Scholarships.