Two Aiken County students – Theresa Melendez of Midland Valley High and Jonathan Mills of North Augusta High – have been named semi-finalists in the National Achievement Scholarship Program.


Administered through the National Merit Scholarship Corporation, the achievement awards recognizes academically talented minority students throughout the nation.


The recognition is based on students’ performance on the PSAT test taken as juniors.


Both students will be eligible to become finalists next spring. About 50 percent of finalists will win an Achievement Scholarship Award.


Melendez, who moved to Aiken County as a sophomore, is the daughter of Ranada and Cecil Melendez. She is a member of the Key Club, the school’s book club.


She’s involved with Midland Valley’s AP Ambassadors Club, encouraging underclassmen to take Advanced Placement courses or to take more if they are already enrolled in one.


“We’re also trying to plan a field trip to talk with eighth-graders,” said Melendez.


“We want to tell them that AP and honors classes are going to help with other classes and with college. It helps you build the skills to get your work done without having your teaching guiding you.”


With the Key Club, a service organization, Melendez has volunteered for a Saturday field day at Byrd Elementary School.


“I’ve always enjoyed my AP courses,” she said. “This honor really surprised me.”


Melendez will attend Winthrop University next year as a forensic science major.


Jonathan Mills is the son of Annie and Jonathan Mills Sr.


He’s a member of the Mu Alpha Theta math society, the National Honor Society, the Beta Club, the environmental club and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.


Mills cites Latimer Blount Jr., a North Augusta Middle School English teacher, as his most influential educator.


“But I was always good at math, which seemed to come naturally, and I enjoyed science too,” Mills said.


He is considering enrollment at Clemson University, the University of South Carolina and Georgia Techinical University to major in electrical or nuclear engineering.


“I’m pretty excited about being a semi-finalist,” Mills said. “I’m done with the paperwork and will wait for the next step.”