31 seniors from region named Merit Scholarship semifinalists

31 seniors from region named Merit Scholarship semifinalists

September 15th, 2010 by Susan Pierce in News

Dale Hoagland, 17, dropped out of high school after her freshman year in order to pursue a self-directed study through home schooling.



Scottsboro High School: Andrew Cookston


Dalton High School: Yea Bae

Darlington School: Stephanie Kehl of Rome

Homeschool: Melanie Kehrer of Ringgold, Stephen Wunrow of Rossville


Baylor School: Johnathan Bowes, Junnie Kwon, Ryan Riedmueller, Sydney Rupe, Megan Thompson

Boyd-Buchanan School: Siri Alay

Chattanooga Christian School: Daniel Adams

Chattanooga School for the Arts and Sciences: Matthew Collum, Sarah Hilling

Cumberland County High School: John Garland of Crossville

Girls Preparatory School: Michelle Bangson, Archer Brock, Danielle Chirumbole, Shelby DeWeese, Laura Higbee, Blair Stewart

Hixson High School: Jason Burford

Homeschool: Briana Wever of Collegedale, Dale Hoagland of Sewanee

McCallie School: Nathan Bird, Noah Olenchek, Mark Taylor, Carter Ward

McMinn County High School: Katherine Edwards, Colin O'Malley of Athens

St. Andrew's-Sewanee School: Marianne Sanders

Source: National Merit Scholarship Corp.

"I didn't want to escape the material being taught, I just wanted to learn it at my own pace, on my own schedule, learning for myself instead of an instructor's approval," Hoagland said.

Within two years she fulfilled state requirements for a high school diploma through correspondence classes from the University of Missouri's Center for Distance and Independent Study, followed by dual enrollment classes at Chattanooga State Community College.

Hoagland is one of four home-schooled students among 31 regional high school seniors named today as 2011 semifinalists in the 56th National Merit Scholarship Program.

Gary Hargraves, area coordinator for Tennessee Home Education Association, said it is the largest number of home-school honorees to ever reach semifinalist status in one year.

Girls Preparatory School led the area with six honorees from its senior class of 83 girls.

"We are very proud of our girls who achieved this incredible level of excellence, and I am equally proud that in a time of an acceptance of mediocrity, GPS seeks the best from all our girls," said GPS Headmaster Randy Tucker.

Students begin the National Merit Scholarship process by taking the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test during their junior year. The scholarship corporation says 1.5 million juniors took the test in 2009.

Of those, 16,000 students scored high enough to qualify as semifinalists - less than 1 percent of all U.S. high school seniors, according to program officials.

Katie Williamsen, National Merit Scholarship Corp. public information coordinator, said 346 home-school students were among the 16,000.

"There has been an upward trend in the number of home-school semifinalists nationwide since 2000," she said. "The number of home-school students in 2008 was 241; in 2010, there were 362 home-school students."

Hixson High School semifinalist Jason Burford said his mother, Marlene Brannon's reaction was "Yes! Scholarships!" when he broke the news.

He said he plans to major in chemistry and study pharmacology at Vanderbilt University.

Burford and all semifinalists are now eligible to compete for $36 million in National Merit Scholarships, which will be awarded in the spring.

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