Hundreds of local students were named National Merit Scholarship semifinalists on Wednesday for achieving high scores on the PSAT.
But Fairfax and Montgomery counties couldn't keep pace with last year's head counts, which was a record in Fairfax County with 234 semifinalists. This year, Fairfax claimed 229 semifinalists, with 146 hailing from magnet powerhouse Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology.
Montgomery County celebrated 137 semifinalists on Wednesday, down from 170 in 2011, but still more than 40 percent of the total winners across Maryland.
Prince George's County, by comparison, had three winners, all at Greenbelt's Eleanor Roosevelt High School.
There were also winner in the smaller local school districts: the District had one semifinalist at Wilson Senior High School, while Alexandria City Public Schools had two at T.C. Williams High School. In Arlington County, 15 students qualified for the competition: eight at Washington-Lee High School and seven at Yorktown High School.
The National Merit corporation estimates that 90 percent of semifinalists will become finalists eligible for 8,300 scholarships worth more than $32 million, some open to all students, some available only to black or Hispanic students, and others given through colleges or corporations.
School-by-school breakdowns for the bigger districts: