Sports: Graham Takes 300th Victory as Belmont Shuts Down Lexington, 1-0

Photo: Belmont High head coach Paul Graham and the team after the coach’s 300th victory.

The white polo shirt said it all.

“300 WINS

Belmont Girls’ Soccer”

It took a little longer than he had hoped, but, finally, Belmont High Girls’ Soccer head coach Paul Graham secured his 300th victory with a 1-0 shutout victory at Lexington on a brilliant fall Thursday afternoon, Sept. 24. 

Sophomore forward Carey Allard’s goal midway through the first half was all the Marauders (3-3-0) needed to break a three-game losing streak and hand Graham the landmark victory.

“I’m thrilled,” said Graham, who has held the helm since 1993.

“This is a big weight off my shoulders and … the girls’ shoulders. After the loss to Woburn, a few had tears in their eyes because they thought they let me down. I don’t want that,” said Graham.

When asked where he placed the accomplishment, Graham said he’s been lucky to have been “able to coach in Belmont, growing up in the town, living here all my life. To reach this success in my own hometown, it’s just great,” he said.

After the final whistle sounded, Graham received a congratulatory hug from his assistant, Stacey Marino, while the team headed across the field to return with each player holding a placard spelling out “300!” The Lexington team provided Graham the game ball and the Belmont team presented their coach the celebratory polo.

“This is what it’s all about,” said Graham as he followed his happy team off the field.

“This is why I coach and this is why I’ll continue to coach. Just to see the smiles on these kid’s face. It’s worth a million dollars,” he said. 

Just being able to coach in Belmont, growing up in the town, living here all my life. To reach this success in my own hometown, it’s just great. 


This Weekend: Service Puppy-in-Training at the Library, Beth El Open House Sunday

Photo: Tyson will be at the Belmont Public Library Saturday.

Working puppy at the library

Meet Tyson, a puppy service dog-in-training, and hear a story and learn about what service dogs do at the Belmont Public Library at 10:30 a.m., Saturday, Sept. 26. The library will also celebrate Tyson’s first birthday! 

Soccer Saturday Matinee

The Belmont High Girls’ Soccer team will be playing a noon matinee as they host Stoneham on the Harris Field pitch, Saturday, Sept. 26. 

Gallery’s 10th Anniversary Show

The 10th Anniversary Show, the Belmont Gallery of Arts’ new exhibit highlighting the past decade since the gallery opened, is open to the public. Gallery hours are Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Sunday, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. The gallery is located on the third floor of the Homer Building, 19 Moore St.

Beth El Open House Sunday

The Beth El Temple Center at 2 Concord Ave. is holding an open house at 11:30 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 27, providing the public an opportunity to meet the clergy, other members of the staff and members of the congregation. Visitors will learn about Beth El Temple Center’s community, the religious school and educational and social programs for all ages. Refreshments will be available. Babysitting is available. To RSVP, call 617-484-6668.

Register for Dan Scharfman Memorial 5K Run on Sunday, Oct. 4

Photo: A scene from last year’s Dan Scharfman road race.

Runners and residents can now register for the Foundation for Belmont Education‘s third annual Dan Scharfman Memorial Run being held on Sunday, Oct. 4 at 9:30 a.m. at Belmont High School’s Harris Field, 221 Concord Ave.

What is now a fall staple on the road running calendar, this family-friendly event offers a 5k and a 2k course that takes runners through a scenic route past many of the town’s schools as well as the Payson Park Reservoir and Clay Pit Pond. Awards follow each race’s end, including prizes for children of all ages.

The race is held in memorial of Dan Scharfman, a Belmont School Committee member, long-time runner and a dedicated advocate of technology and innovation in education. Last year, more than 500 runners raised $25,000 for the Dan Scharfman Education Innovation Fund in support of the FBE’s Innovative Teaching Initiative, a multi-year, $450,000 program providing teachers with the training resources that support math, science and reading instruction.

Registration for the USATF-certified and sanctioned event is available through the FBE website:

Contact: Amanda Theodoropulos, Foundation for Belmont Education, or call 617-947-4633.

Sold in Belmont: Location Makes the Sale for Quintessential Belmont Colonial

Photo: 67 Fairmont St. 

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67 Fairmont St. Center-entrance Colonial (1937). Sold: $1,300,000.

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33 Horace Rd. Brick Colonial (1923). Sold: $990,000.

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37 Wilson Ave. #3. Condominium (2000). Sold: $480,000.

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85 Lawrence Lane. Center-entrance Colonial (1937). Sold: $795,000


A weekly recap of residential properties sold in the past seven-plus days in the “Town of Homes.”

85 Lawrence Lane. Center-entrance Colonial (1937). Sold: $795,000. Listed at $799,000. Living area: 1,764 sq.-ft. 8 rooms, 3 bedrooms, 2.5 baths. On the market: 105 days.

37 Wilson Ave. #3. Condominium (2000). Sold: $480,000. Listed at $430,000. Living area: 1,123 sq.-ft. 6 rooms, 3 bedrooms, 1 full, 1 partial baths. On the market: 57 days.

33 Horace Rd. Brick Colonial (1923). Sold: $990,000. Listed at $935,000. Living area: 1,883 sq.-ft. 8 rooms, 4 bedrooms, 2.5 baths. On the market: 71 days.

67 Fairmont St. Center-entrance Colonial (1937). Sold: $1,300,000. Listed at $1,250,000. Living area: 2,274 sq.-ft. 8 rooms, 4 bedrooms, 2.5 baths. On the market: 78 days.

While there is some thought that home priced in seven figures will sooner than later find themselves sitting in the barber’s chair ready for their haircut, some are located in the right place at the right time to take advantage of their appeal. 

67 Fairmont St. is one such residential property. Located on one of the side streets between Common and Goden streets, it’s a good-size Colonial – nearly 2,300 square feet – with four bedrooms. Situated midway between the business hubs of Belmont Center and Cushing Square, its location is perfect for a young-ish family with schools on their mind. The Wellington is down a block, the Chenery four streets to the south and the High School close enough so the kids can’t bug the parents to let them drive to 221 Concord Ave. While the front is facing north, the backyard is sunny with a chance to do some serious gardening. 

A quarter century, during the real estate bust in these parts, the house sold for $60,000. Twenty years ago, the town valued it at $405,000. Since then, a new kitchen and roof were put into the Colonial. This year, the town said the house was worth $942,000. So think of the buyer paying a $350,000 premium for a 78-year-old house. Wow. 

Concord Under Construction For Next Five Days

Photo: The road work begins on Concord Avenue. 

The main thoroughfare from Cambridge and Belmont High School to Belmont Center and points west will be reduced to a single lane as the roadway undergoes much-needed repair and repaving, according to the town’s Office of Community Development.

Concord Avenue from the commuter rail bridge to Cottage Street (where the Underwood Pool is located) will become home to pavers and asphalt spreaders for the next five days – if the weather cooperates – as the roadway (known for its potholes and divots) is restored as part of the 2015 Pavement Management project.

Concord Avenue is one of 15 streets that are being repaired after the Belmont Board of Selectmen accepted a $1.99 million bid from E.H. Perkins Construction last month, according to OCD Director Glenn Clancy. 

Sports: With a Third of Season In, Field Hockey In Playoff Shape

Photo: Belmont High Field Hockey’s co-captains Serena Nally (l) and Molly Thayer (r) and junior AnnMarie Habelow (center).

Belmont High School’s Field Hockey team lost a boatload of seniors to graduation from last year’s 11-4-2 squad, starting the 2015 season with a defense corp of underclassmen learning how to play as a cohesive unit.

So you would expect the Marauders to be treading water in the competitive Middlesex League Liberty Division during the first weeks of the new seasons.

But Head Coach Jessie Smith’s squad is doing just swimmingly. After another workmanlike victory Tuesday night, Sept. 22, a 7-0 win over Woburn, the Marauders have completed a third of the season undefeated at 5-0. 

Just as impressive as its record is Belmont’s scoring prowess, slotting in an Eastern Massachusetts-leading 29 goals. Only one other team, Quaboag, has matched the Marauders’ proficient rate.

What gives? 

“I sometimes ask that same question,” said Smith, who is entering her 13th season as head coach.

While Smith said the schedule has helped – only Wilmington, which Belmont dispatched quickly, 4-0, last week, has a .500 record – much of the early season’s success generates from a core of two- and three-year starters who’ve played together and know their way around a field hockey pitch.

That list starts with one of the most dominate players in Massachusetts (and the region) in junior midfielder AnnMarie Habelow on the pitch. The Division 1 Louisville-commit has been deadly within the shooting circle, sending whippet-like shots that scatter defenders and test goalies. 

But Habelow is not merely a shooting machine. The three-year starter’s arsenal includes fast and accurate passes, the skills to weave through defenders like Mikaela Shiffrin heading down a hill and the ability to lift the ball over a line of midfielders to clear the area and change the flow of play.


Joining Habelow in the attack is senior forward Kerri Lynch, who has tallied ten goals scoring in each game, and senior co-captain Serena Nally, who registered a brace Wednesday, as did Lynch and Habelow. 

Youngsters are coming to the fore such as defender Lilly Devitt, midfield Bridget Gardiner and Morgan Chase (scoring a goal in each of last three games) joining veteran junior Julia Chase on the wings where they each have a deft touch with their sticks. 

The key to the defense is senior co-captain Molly Thayer, who Smith has positioned as a sweeper. Thayer’s job is straight forward; use her speed and defensive skills to track down offensive player who gets by the defensive line and running down any attempt heading towards sophomore goalie Christina MacLeod

“Molly plays a big role in every game. The defense doesn’t see much action, but that’s because she is stopping the plays before it gets to them,” said Smith. 

That young backline – which includes Thayer, Devitt and Molly Goldberg – will be tested in the next two games as the Marauders host rivals 4-1 Lexington on Friday, Sept. 25 at 3:30 p.m. and a resurgent Winchester squad, at 5-1, in Winchester on Monday, Sept. 28.

“It will be interesting to see how our defense reacts to a very strong offense that we haven’t seen yet,” said Smith.

Workshop To Help Residents Apply for Belmont Cultural Grants Tonight

Organizations, schools and residents with creative ideas for cultural, scientific and technological activities and events in Belmont are invited to apply for grants from the Belmont Cultural Council, which was awarded $5,000 from the Massachusetts Cultural Council 

Grant applications are being accepted now and must be postmarked by October 15th for the 2016 funding cycle.

To assist all those interested in applying for a grant, the Council is holding a grant writing workshop today, Wednesday, Sept. 23, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Belmont Public Library. Contact Juliet Jenkins at for more information about the workshop.

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Recent local grant recipient have included Belmont World Film, a multi-cultural fair, the Winslow Homer exhibit at the Belmont Woman’s Club and a printmaking workshop at Habitat.

For grant application forms, specific guidelines, and more, visit the Belmont Cultural Council website or contact Laurie Gianotti, the BCC Chair, at 

After Five Years, Mahoney’s Goal for Belmont Savings to be State’s Most Admired Bank

Photo: Robert Mahoney with Anne Paulsen at the opening of the Underwood Pool in August.

When asked what Belmont residents should know about Robert Mahoney, the CEO and president of Belmont Savings Bank said that “I’m 67 years old, and I don’t do anything I don’t like any more.” 

If there is one thing the Wellesley resident who has spent his entire career in banking wants to do is continue to run one of the best managed community banks in Massachusetts, 

“I got the chance to do a job and get paid for something I love to do. How cool is that? I’m the luckiest guy around,” said Mahoney who recently celebrated his fifth year at the helm of BSB Bancorp, Inc. the bank holding company whose subsidiary, Belmont Savings Bank, provides banking products and services.

So far, the former CEO and president of Citizens Bank has used his vast expertise to good results in Belmont. Taking charge in 2010, Mahoney has turned the once sleepy community bank into a well respected regional competitor, tripling the total assets from $400 million to $1.55 billion (as of June), increasing revenues to $10 million in the past quarter with net earnings reaching $1.6 million in the quarter ending in June. 

According to analyst web site, Belmont Savings is out performing peers institutions such as Wellesley Bancorp, Hingham Institution for Savings, People’s United Financial, and United Financial Bancorp Inc. in areas such as revenue, operating cash flow, and lending in the most recent quarter.

Mahoney also helped convert the 130-year-old institution from a mutual bank to a stock-ownership holding company in 2011. As of Tuesday, Sept. 22, the stock price was at $21.51, about 25 percent high than a year earlier. 

In addition to lead the bank to a solid financial footing for future growth, Mahoney has positioned the bank to be the center of philanthropic giving in Belmont. Establishing the Belmont Savings Bank Foundation in 2011 with proceeds from the bank’s conversion in 2011, grants from the $4 million endowment has been used to help build the town’s new pool and varsity court at the Belmont High and sponsor events throughout the year.

The bank has also worked with the Foundation for Belmont Education in the creation of the Belmont Education Rewards account which benefits the FBE and the customer. In total the bank and the Foundation have provided the FBE more than $45,000.

The Belmontonian and Belmont Media Center sat down with Mahoney to discuss his five years at the bank.

Q. In the five years since you were named President and CEO of Belmont Savings Bank, the bank’s total assets have tripled and have made what was once a small community bank into something of a financial powerhouse in MetroWest. Knowing you have a BA in Chemistry from UMass Amherst, what sort of alchemy are you doing to achieve this?

Mahoney: I’ve been very lucky to have been able to go to UMass and learned to do ‘hard’ stuff. Banking is very easy compared to organic chemistry.

Q. You had a long banking career starting at the Bank of Boston than as CEO of Citizens Bank which was a smaller regional bank when you took over which ended up with assets of $11 billion when it was sold. 

Mahoney: Citizens in 1993 had four branches in Massachusetts and $400 million in assets, coincidently the exact same size as Belmont Savings Bank in 2010. It was the eighth largest bank in Rhode Island and over the course of 15 years, it became the eighth largest bank in America. It was a lot of fun for the people who worked there because they got to be in a place where their job got bigger just by being there. Banking isn’t always fun, but banking at Belmont Savings is fun.

Q: What in your past experience did you bring to Belmont Savings Bank that has spurred its growth?

Mahoney: I’m a lender. I trained in lending at First National Bank of Boston for 23 years and did all kinds of lending. But more importantly, I know how to get it back. From a technical standpoint, that’s my primary skill. I’m also a pretty decent marketer, I know how to sell stuff and talk to people.

I’ve been doing this for 45 years, so I’d like to think I’ve learned how to get people excited about working at a place, that I can draw a picture what the world could look like if we achieve certain things and how much more fun it would be, and that’s what leaders do. Leaders draw a vision or a picture of a future state that’s better than the current state and get people to run through walls to get there.

Q: So what picture did you give your employees when you came here?

Mahoney: I wanted us to all work at the most admired bank in Massachusetts. I wanted people to go home at the holidays and meet old friends and tell them ‘I work at Belmont Savings Bank’ and their friends say, “Wow, that’s a great bank.” I think it’s great fun to work at an admired corporation. There aren’t many out there. Working for a great company, really admired company is a huge source of physic income. 

Q: What areas of banking are you targeting?

Mahoney: So what does most admired mean? First of all, you have to be growing. It’s hard to conceive of a really admired company being static.

When we first got here in 2010, we wanted to get to a billion dollars in assets. A billion dollars is a kind of a rite of passage, an entry point for a good sized admired bank. We wanted to be profitable because anyone can grow a business and not make any money. We wanted to have the services of the big banks but the touch of the community banks; the on-line services, the mobile banking services.

It shouldn’t be a compromise to be a customer of the Belmont Savings Bank; it should be equal or better and deliver the personal touch. Have people answer the phone, say ‘please’ and ‘thank you,’ we have a human being answer the phone, every day every hour. 

Q: Belmont Savings is known as a lending bank with an emphasis on residential and increasingly commercial real estate lending. What is your approach towards lending?

Mahoney: Residential home mortgage lending is the fundamental base of any community bank, it’s what really links you to your community. There’s nothing like helping someone buy their first home or refinance it for a better rate. 

We wanted to grow faster and we saw an opportunity in the commercial side which we thought there was a void. The big banks were becoming a little less personal and engaging. We had a lot of friends from our prior years in banking who were customers of big banks who came to us to do business with us. Why? Because we do answer the phone and they can talk to the president whenever they want. We treat them like humans. They are our friends. We know how to do this. We’re predictable; when we tell someone we’re going to get a deal done, it gets done the way we said it was going to get done. We’ve put on $500 million in the past five years. This isn’t $50 million condo projects in downtown Boston. These are $2, to $5 million projects so that’s  a lot of projects over the course of five years. We do two to three deals of significance a week.

We also do a lot of home equity lending which is terrific for the consumer, it’s a very flexible, tax advantage product where they can pay for a college education or an addition to their house or some other major capital purchase just using their home as equity. We’ve done $150 million of that product.

Q: Belmont Savings is also known for its consumer banking, placing branches in supermarkets and offering competitive rates on products. What’s that segment’s future?

Mahoney: That’s the fuel we use to lend. So if we didn’t have deposits coming in every week, we wouldn’t have the money to lend to our business and real estate customers.

We are very fortunate to have between 50 and 70 families a week switch to us. They come to us from the big banks because they’ve had that final straw that broke the camel’s bank: the ATM card that got eaten up or that surly teller or the 800 number that just wouldn’t talk back.  

The supermarkets are a natural place to attract customers because you’re surrounded by strangers all week long. The average bank branch only has customers in it. People don’t go to the bank to go shopping. But they do go to the supermarket and we see them on Wednesday in the meat aisle, Friday in the vegetable counter and we get to know them. We have promotions like spin the “wheel of fortune” to get to win their groceries for free. I had the great pleasure of one of our customers in Cambridge won what we call the ‘whole shebang’ where she got five minutes of free shopping in the Star Market. It was so much fun to watch her rack up six hundred bucks of groceries. What can’t be any better than that?

Everybody wants to have that personal touch. We all have to work for a living but you might as well make something less than miserable and treat people the way you would like to be treated.

You want to create an experience. You want someone to go home to their spouse or their best friend and say, ‘You are not going to believe what happened at the bank today.’ I want that to happen to our colleagues and I want that to happen to our customers.

Q: You’ve had a great five-year run in an industry (community banking) that has been hit hard with narrow margins and competition. What are your plans for the next five years? 

Mahoney: I think we can continue to be a better bank in Belmont. We only have 40 percent market share which means there’s 60 percent left to go. We have Newton, Waltham and Watertown and other markets that we’d like to expand. We like the MetroWest area, it’s a terrific place to do business, but an important part of our strategy is to be a community bank which isn’t just making loans and not just taking deposits but giving back to the community.

Q: On that subject, Belmont Savings Bank has been quite generous through its foundation – which has $4 million in its endownment – in supporting or sponsoring a wide range of community projects, from the new Underwood Pool (a gift of $200,000) the Foundation for Belmont Education and Joey’s Park and the new varsity court at Belmont High School. Speak about the bank’s philanthropic direction. 

Mahoney: I think giving back to the community is an obligation. It’s not a choice. It’s a reasonable thing to expect from the largest private organization in Belmont, one of the few that has the Belmont name on the door to give back.

I was at the Underwood Pool grand opening and no less than seven or eight different people came up to me and said, ‘I switched banks because of what you did for our town with this pool.’ You get to see people in an environment that wouldn’t have seen them otherwise, whether it’s the holiday party, the Turn on the Town, Town Day with our wonderful car show, the Spelling Bee or the plays. These are opportunities to meet people in a different way, to meet them as a human as oppose to a teller or a banker. We have on average over 4,000 to 5,000 hours of volunteer time in 60 event a year in this town from our 125 employees. But it’s good marketing.

Q: But the foundation’s approach is very hands on, taking the time to meet with recipients, going over plans, learning about the events. Wouldn’t it be more cost effective for the foundation to simply write a check to a few organizations each year?

Mahoney: I think [our current approach] a fantastic use of our time. But we don’t give away money, we invest. We invest in organizations where there is a payback; where we think it’s best for our families in our neighborhoods, it’s best for our students, for getting our visibility out there. I don’t think just sliding checks under the door at midnight is a sustainable model for philantropy. I think there has to be some sort of return; a reputational return, a good will return, a fund for colleagues as part of being the most admired bank. That’s a return for the bank. 

Selectmen Set to Vote on Compromise Design for ‘Town Green’

Photo: The image of the compromise design for the “Town Green” parcel of the Belmont Center Reconstruction Project.

A compromise design for the “Town Green” parcel of the $2.8 million Belmont Center Reconstruction Project is being praised by leaders of the effort who sought to make the area bordered by Leonard Street, Concord Avenue and Moore Street into a pedestrian-friendly green space. 

Created to incorporate the competing demands of the two sides of the issue that boiled over into a contentious Special Town Meeting in August, the new design appears to allow greater pedestrian access during off-peak times when the pass thru in front of the Belmont Savings Bank is shut to traffic and parking.

The Belmont Board of Selectmen, which requested the third plan for the “delta” after the Special Town Meeting, will discuss and vote on this enhancement at its next public meeting, Monday, Sept. 28, at 7 p.m. in Town Hall.

A history of the dispute and a report on the Special Town Meeting can be found at this link.

For one of the leaders of those residents who successfully passed a Special Town Meeting article on Aug. 6 urging the Selectmen to return to the Project’s original design for the delta, this effort is a success.

“It’s a great compromise after many months of frustration with the design, disappointment with the process, efforts to resolve the conflict short of Town Meeting, collecting signatures, Special Town Meeting in the summer, and extensive dialogue in the last month,” said Bonnie Friedman, who, with Paul Roberts, led the citizen’s petition that called for the Special Town Meeting. 

The third plan – dubbed the “enhancement” design – created by landscape architect and former Selectman Andy Rojas creates a brick and concrete pass thru that becomes a pedestrian walkway during off-peak hours. (see design plan here)

“The result looks beautiful. It integrates the Green in a way that Plan B and even Plan A were unable to achieve. Because of that, the Green Space looks bigger than Plan B or even Plan A.  The ‘driveway’ is more like a plaza now which can be enjoyed in all sorts of ways when the road is closed,” said Friedman.

Friedman gave much of the credit for the new design to another former selectman, Ralph Jones, who worked to help forge movement towards a compromise blueprint that the Selectmen agreed to at its Aug. 17 meeting.

Paul Roberts said Rojas’ design “certainly looks better than what we have now, and better than Plan B.”

“Rojas did a great job on short notice, and he is owed thanks on this,” said Roberts.

Issues remain in the new design for Friedman and Roberts.

Friedman points to safety in crosswalks, if there are enough curb cuts for strollers and wheelchairs, the number of benches and tables and what sort of barrier to use to limit access.

“Most importantly, the selectmen will be deciding on what constitutes ‘off-peak hours,'” said Friedman.

“I would love to see the [pass thru] open just rush-hour weekday mornings when Leonard Street potentially backs up. The fewer hours [it] is open, the fewer conflicts between pedestrians, bicyclists, and cars.  Those hours might also adapt over time as we can use our Green,” she said. 

Roberts also sees problems with the new design as it doesn’t “put pedestrians on an equal footing with automobiles and that offered a real space for residents in the Town Center to congregate without having to negotiate around automobile traffic.”

Roberts also questioned if town officials and transportation experts have vetted the Rojas design.

“Has a transportation engineering firm reviewed it? Have public safety officials signed off on this plan?” asks Roberts, wondering if limits on the size of vehicles and thru traffic need to be established.

Roberts also advises the Selectmen to allow the plan to be reviewed by the public and domain experts over a couple of weeks before voting on it.

“To simply repeat the errors of May 28 by throwing this plan up on the overhead and adopting it then and there without a full vetting by the public would be a tragedy and proof that the [Board of Selectmen] have not learned their lesson, nor heeded the many complaints of concerns of the voters who elected them,” which he calls “a dangerous course in politics.”

Five Belmont Seniors Named National Merit Scholar Semifinalists

Photo: (from left) Andrew Giorgio, Maggie Liu, Anya Zhang, Principal Dan Richards, Emma Pierce-Hoffman and Kaiwen Zhang. 

Five Belmont High School seniors were named 2016 National Merit Scholarship Semi-Finalists by The National Merit Scholarship Corporation.

Andrew Giorgio, Emma Pierce-Hoffman, Maggie Liu, Anya Zhang and Kaiwen Zhang join 16,000 other semifinalists from across the country in the competition for nearly 7,600 scholarships worth $33 million that will be given out in the spring of 2016. 

To be considered for a Merit Scholarship award, semifinalists must fulfill several requirements to advance to the finalist level of the competition. About 90 percent of the Semifinalists are expected to attain finalist standing, and more than half of the finalists will win a National Merit Scholarship and earning the title Merit Scholar.