Five local seniors named National Merit semifinalists

September 14, 2020 | 12:08 am

Updated September 13, 2020 | 10:25 pm

Graphic by Owensboro Times

Five area students have been named semifinalists in the 66th annual National Merit Scholarship Program, an annual competition recognizing intellectual accomplishments.

They are among approximately 16,000 academically high school seniors who now advance in competition for about 7,600 National Merit Scholarships valued at more than $30 million, which will be awarded next spring. 

Semifinalists represent students who earned the highest scores in each state on the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test.


Finalists will be announced in February, and all National Merit Scholarship winners for 2021 will be announced in four nationwide releases beginning in April and concluding in July.

Owensboro Catholic High School had one semifinalist in Emma Silvert the daughter of Amy and Madison Silvert. She is a 2020 Kentucky Governor’s Scholar and a member of the Statesmanship Academy, Owensboro Dance Theater Company, the International Club and the National Honor Society.

Daviess County Public Schools had four semifinalists in Nathaniel Payne (Apollo High School), Daniel Martin and Emmylou Tidwell (Daviess County High School), and Calvin Higdon (Carol Martin Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Sciences in Bowling Green).

Payne is the son of David and Mary Payne of Owensboro. He is a two-year member of the AHS Robotics Team and a four-year member of the Academic Team. He is also a member of the Beta Club and tennis team, and has played golf for AHS for six years. Nathan plans to study chemical engineering at either the University of Kentucky or the University of Louisville, with a goal of serving an internship as a petroleum engineer upon graduation.

Martin is the son of William and Lynette Martin. He is a member of the DCHS track and field team and the football team. He was the recipient of the Coaches Award as a freshman member of the football team and was named to the Academic All-State Football team in recognition of his outstanding grade point average. Daniel is also a member of the Bellevue Baptist Church youth ministry leadership team. He plans to major in biochemistry in college with a goal of helping others — a desire inspired by his parents’ careers in the field of healthcare. Other future plans include a medical mission trip to Myanmar. 

Tidwell is the daughter of Jim and Jennie Tidwell. She is a member of the National Honor Society, orchestra and Chess Club, and she served as junior class treasurer last year. She has previously earned recognition as an AP Scholar with Distinction and was a 2020 Governor’s Scholar. She was a member of the 2020 All-State Orchestra and has won several competitions as a member of the DCHS Academic Team. She holds several youth leadership positions at her church and is president of the Young Women’s class. She serves on her church’s youth council for the northwestern Kentucky and southern Indiana regions. Tidwell plans to major in molecular biology or microbiology in college. 

Higdon is the son of Robert and Donna Higdon. He also attended Gatton Academy last year but is still considered a DCHS student. The Gatton Academy is Kentucky’s first residential two-year program for gifted and talented junior and seniors. Students enroll as juniors and are full-time WKU students pursuing their interests in advanced science, technology, engineering and mathematical careers. 

September 14, 2020 | 12:08 am

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