Five area students have been named National Merit Semifinalists in the 66th annual National Merit Scholarship Program — four from Daviess County Public Schools and one Owensboro Catholic Schools student.

They are among about 16,000 other high school students who are now advancing forward in the competition for the 7,600 National Merit Scholarships that are valued at more than $30 million. Those scholarships are to be awarded next spring.

Students qualify for these scholarships depending on their Preliminary SAT, or PSAT, scores, as well as the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. There are typically about 1.6 million entrants to the competition at the beginning with about 50,000 high-scorers on the tests.

Owensboro Catholic Schools student Emma Silvert has been named a National Merit semifinalist. She is a 2020 Governor’s Scholar, a member of the Statesmanship Academy, an Owensboro Dance Theatre company member, and a member of the international club and National Honor Society. She is the daughter of Amy and Madison Silvert.

The Daviess County Public Schools district has four students who have been named National Merit Semifinalists. They are Nathaniel Payne, an Apollo High School student, Daniel Martin and Emmylou Tidwell, who are both Daviess County High School students, and Calvin Higdon, who currently attends the Carol Martin Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Sciences in Kentucky.

Martin is a member of the DCHS track and field and football teams, and plans to major in biochemistry in college. He is the son of William and Lynette Martin.

His advice to other students is to “study, study, study.”

“The importance of time and effort cannot be overstated,” he said.

Tidwell is a member of the National Honor Society, orchestra and the chess club. She plans to study molecular biology or microbiology in college. She is the daughter of Jim and Jennie Tidwell.

She advised her peers to take the PSAT, ACT and the SAT before their junior year of high school to gain experience.

“Any experience or practice with the standardized testing format will help,” she said.

Payne is on the AHS Robotics Team, Academic Team, AHS tennis team and is a member of Beta Club. He played golf for Apollo for six years and plans to study chemical engineering at either the University of Kentucky of the University of Louisville. He is the son of David and Mary Payne of Owensboro.

Phone calls regarding Higdon were not immediately returned. In 2019 he was accepted into the Gatton Academy that is on Western Kentucky University’s campus in Bowling Green. Higdon, of Whitesville, is the son of Robert and Donna Higdon.

Gatton Academy Director Dr. Lynette Breedlove noted that Calvin’s opportunities and access to outstanding teachers while attending DCPS were significant factors in his achievement, according to DCPS spokeswoman Lora Wimsatt.

Bobbie Hayse,, 270-691-7315

Bobbie Hayse,, 270-691-7315

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