National Merit Program Semifinalists

Eight Students Named National Merit Scholarship Program Semifinalists
Posted on 09/20/2022
National Merit Scholarship Program logo

The School District of Lee County is excited to announce eight students have been selected as Semifinalists in the 2023 National Merit® Scholarship Program. National Merit® Semifinalists represent less than 1% of all high school seniors.

The eight students are:

  • Anthony Busatta - Cape Coral High School
  • Andrew Destacamento – Lehigh Senior High School
  • Lily Harris – Fort Myers High School
  • Jason He - Fort Myers High School
  • Jayce McMillan - Bonita Springs High School
  • Cooper Petel – Fort Myers High School
  • Ryne Starnes - Estero High School
  • Ashlene Thomas – South Fort Myers High School

“Anthony Busatta is an amazing student who carries a 5.28 grade point average and is currently ranked 8th in his class,” said Cape Coral High School Principal Christian Engelhart. “His SAT super-score is 1540 and he scored a 35 on the ACT. Anthony is the President of our Student Government Executive Board, is the President of the school’s Mock Trial team, is an officer in Model UN, and was selected for the prestigious Florida’s American Legion Boys State and Boys Nation. When Anthony has some down time, he builds computers.”

Cyndi Chiorello, Assistant Principal at Lehigh Senior High said about Andrew Destacamento, “Andrew is finishing up his high school credits while preparing and applying to Universities located here in Florida. He earned his Cambridge diploma at the end of his junior year. Along with qualifying for the National Merit Semi-Finals based on PSAT score, he currently has a 1500 SAT score.”

“We are very proud of our three National Merit Scholarship Winners,” says Fort Myers High School Principal Dr. Robert Butz about Lily Harris, Jason He and Cooper Petel. “Their hard work and dedication to their academics has resulted in them being recognized as the best of the best. We are sure that they will be successful in whatever endeavors they choose.”

“Jayce McMillan is a terrific young man!” according to Bonita Springs High School Assistant Principal Christopher Drake. “He is ranked number one in his class with a 5.16 GPA. Jayce is one of our FGCU Collegiate Academy students and has already earned 30 college credits with straight A’s and two semesters on the President’s List.”

“Ryne Starnes has a 4.0 unweighted GPA and a 5.2 weighted GPA,” said his Principal at Estero High School, Mike Amabile. “He is a member of HOSA, STEM @ Work, Math Club, and the A Team! He also volunteers at the Gulf Coast Humane Society and has volunteered at Vacation Bible School for four years. His goal is to attend Florida State University and to study Astrophysics!”

South Fort Myers High School Principal Ed Mathews said, “Ashlene Thomas has been a full-time ACE (Accelerated Collegiate Experience) Dual Enrollment student at FGCU for the past two years. She currently has a 4.0 with FGCU and is on their President’s list. She is a bright, articulate student. She has a strong sense of curiosity and a passion for learning. She definitely understands and values the importance of a good education.”

High school juniors entered the 2023 National Merit Scholarship Program by taking the 2021 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT®), which served as an initial screen of program entrants. The nationwide pool of Semifinalists includes the highest-scoring entrants in each state.

From the approximately 16,000 Semifinalists nationwide, about 15,000 are expected to advance to the Finalist level in February. They will then compete for 7,250 National Merit Scholarships worth nearly $28 million that will be offered next spring.