STOCKTON — Several San Joaquin County high school students are among 16,000 semifinalists for the National Merit Scholarship Program.

About 1.6 million juniors in more than 22,000 high schools across the country entered the scholarship to be given next year, by taking the 2015 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test.

Faith Ajayi (Lodi Academy), John Burnside (Ripon Christian High), Daniella Caluza (Stockton Early College Academy), Assad Khan (Merrill F. West High), Molly Pinder (Lodi High), Amal Thornmil (Tracy High) and Charlie Zhang (Weston Ranch High) have the opportunity to continue in the competition for some 7,500 scholarships worth about $33 million that will be offered next spring.

To become a finalist, students had to submit an application, in which they provided information about their academic record, participation in school and community activities, demonstrated leadership abilities, employment, and honors and awards received.

Additional requirements include having an outstanding academic record throughout high school, be endorsed and recommended by a high school official, submit an essay, and earn SAT scores that satisfy the qualifying test.

Out of the thousands of semifinalists, about 15,000 will become finalists. Those who make it further will be notified in February.