Thirteen from NET named National Merit semifinalists

Rick Wagner • Sep 16, 2018 at 3:00 PM

KINGSPORT — Thirteen Northeast Tennessee high school seniors, including seven from Dobyns-Bennett, one from Sullivan South and one from a homeschool program, have been named semifinalists for the 2019 National Merit Scholarship Program. It is designed to identify and honor the top high school students in the United States. 

Two students from University School also are semi-finalists, as well as one each from Science Hill and Tennessee High schools.

More than 1.6 million juniors from more than 22,000 high schools entered the competition by taking the 2017 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT), which served as an initial screening of program entrants. The nationwide pool of semifinalists represents less than 1 percent of U.S. high school seniors and includes the highest scoring entrants in each state. Merit Scholar designees are selected on the basis of their skills, accomplishments and potential for success in rigorous college studies, without regard to gender, race, ethnic origin or religious preference.

Those named as National Merit Scholarship semifinalists from D-B are Matthew Barnicki, son of Scott and Brenda Barnicki; Brogan Beckner, son of James and Sherry Beckner; Julian Chastain, son of Jerry and Karen Chastain; Nikhil Chatra, son of Ashok and Shubha Chatra; Allison Glynn, daughter of Theodore and Bethanie Glynn; Rachel Rivera, daughter of Estuardo and Tamara Rivera; and Grant Wilkins, son of Michael and Elizabeth Wilkins. 

Also on the list of semifinalists are Kingsport homeschooled HomeLife Academy student Evan S. Dunn, son of Rocky and Kati Dunn; Sullivan South’s Madison J. McKinney, daughter of Suzanne Williams; Tennessee High’s Samuel J. Bende, sone of Wendy and Bob Benderr; Science Hill’s Jakob Z. Cielo, son of Zinnia and Lovell Cielo; University School’s Porter J. Bradley, son of Ian and Leslie Bradley; and University School’s Hannah C. Ecay, son of Tom and Kathleen Ecay.

The local semifinalists will compete with the top high school students in the nation for some 7,500 National Merit Scholarships worth approximately $31 million that will be offered in the spring of 2019.

To become a finalist, the semifinalist and his or her high school must submit a detailed scholarship application, in which information is provided regarding the semifinalist’s academic record, participation in school/community activities, demonstrated leadership abilities, employment and honors/awards received. A semifinalist must have an outstanding academic record throughout high school, be endorsed and recommended by a high school official, write an essay and earn SAT scores that confirm the student’s earlier performance on the qualifying test.

From approximately 16,000 students qualified as semifinalists, about 90 percent are expected to advance to finalist standing, and more than half of the finalists will win a National Merit Scholarship. Winners for 2019 will be announced beginning in April and concluding in July. For more information on the National Merit Scholarship Program, go online to nationalmerit.org.

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