Nine local students have been named semifinalists in the 64th annual National Merit Scholarship program.

Eight of the local semifinalists are from Maryville High School: Emma M. Alexander, Gabriel B. Bonneville, Alissa M. Gordon, Carter D. Hatch, Alex N. Mays, Riann A. McMillan, Katherine A. Reed and Eli B. Tate.

The ninth, John D. Cobb, is a student at Clayton-Bradley Academy and is the school’s first semifinalist since its creation in 2013.

Cobb plans to major in history after he graduates from Clayton-Bradley, where he is involved with the debate team, beekeeping, Scholars Bowl and National History Day.

He is completing his Eagle Scout project, is an AP scholar, and placed second in the nation for the YEA! Entrepreneurs Academy Scholarship Award.

MHS semifinalists

Alexander plans to major in natural science to become a doctor or surgeon.

She is an AP and Maryville Scholar who is president of Mu Alpha Theta and Spanish Honor Society, and a member of the Maryville High School soccer team, YoungLife and Blount County Youth Court.

Bonneville is interested in pursuing aerospace engineering. He currently serves as the safety captain for the Blount County FIRST Robotics team, of which he has been a member for five years.

Gordon plans to attend the University of Tennessee Knoxville to earn a degree in microbiology and become a dentist or doctor.

An AP and Maryville Scholar, she has competed and placed in the Tennessee Mathematics Teachers Association’s Math Competition three times, and plays viola in the orchestra with All-State and All-East titles.

Hatch has plans to major in engineering or medicine. An avid participant in student government, he has been his sophomore, junior and senior class presidents.

Among academic achievements such as National Honor Society, Mu Alpha Theta, Spanish Honor Society and Maryville Scholars, he is a two-year drum major for the MHS marching band and has received All-State and All-East titles as a saxophonist.

Mays is considering a major in biology, environmental science or neuroscience. An AP and Maryville Scholar, he is involved in club and high school swimming, Key Club, Mu Alpha Theta, National and Spanish Honor Societies, and is an Eagle Scout.

Mays also serves as a summer league swim coach and has been awarded titles from Speedo and USA Swimming Scholastic All-American.

McMillan plans to major in chemistry and aspires to be a pediatrician.

She has lettered in language arts and has been recognized in chemistry and AP English. McMillan’s extracurriculars include ballet and modern dance, and Junior Classical League.

Reed intends to major in biochemistry and cellular and molecular biology, then pursue a graduate degree in biological science. She is interested in becoming a genetics researcher or something similar.

She has earned academic letters for social studies, science, English and math, and she is is a member of the National Honor Society and Maryville Scholars. Reed serves as the Key Club president and has had artwork displayed in the East Tennessee Regional Student Art Exhibition at the Knoxville Museum of Art.

Tate plans to study mechanical engineering at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, N.Y. He wants to fly UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters in the Army and then become a commercial airline pilot.

A member of the MHS swim team, student council, Mu Alpha Theta, FCA and Key Club, Tate has been on teams such as the NISCA Swimming All-American, All-State swim team, and a Knoxville Swimmer of the Year finalist. He also coaches the Green Meadow swim team.

Over 90 percent of the semifinalists are expected to attain finalist standing, and about half of the finalists will win a National Merit Scholarship, earring the Merit Scholar title.

To be considered for a Merit Scholarship award, semifinalists must submit their academic records, demonstrate leadership and participate in school and community activities. They also must write an essay, be recommended by a high school official and earn high scores on the SAT.

About 16,000 students nationwide qualified as semifinalists based on their top scores among the roughly 4.3 million who took the 2017 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test.

The semifinalists will compete for some 7,500 scholarships valued at more than $31 million to be offered next spring.

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