EVANSTON, Ill. — Of 16,000 semifinalists officials selected for the 63rd annual National Merit Scholarship, five come from Santa Rosa County, according to National Merit Scholarship Corporation officials.

They are Milly Ladner and Fiama Mastrangelo of Gulf Breeze, Rylee Fitzgerald and Joseph Pool of Milton, and Logan Laird of Pace.

All of the finalists have an opportunity to continue in the competition for some 7,500 National Merit Scholarships worth more than $32 million the program offers next spring. For Merit Scholarship® award consideration, Semifinalists must fulfill several requirements to advance to the finalist level of the competition. About 90 percent of the semifinalists are may expect to attain finalist standing, and about half of the finalists will win a National Merit Scholarship earning the Merit Scholar® title.

NMSC, a nonprofit organization operating without government assistance, has existed since 1955 specifically to conduct the annual program. NMSC underwrites the scholarships with its own funds along with approximately 420 business organizations and higher education institutions that share NMSC’s goals of honoring the nation’s scholastic champions and encouraging the pursuit of academic excellence.