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6 local students named National Merit finalists

By Bayne Hughes 340-2432

Six local high school seniors are finalists in the prestigious 2007 National Merit Scholarship Program.

Athens, Austin and Decatur high schools each had two students make the list of 15,000 finalists in the 52nd year of the competition.

In the spring, the competition will announce about 8,200 Merit Scholarships, worth about $33 million.

Athens High — Deborah M. Cox, daughter of Ken and Lauren Cox; and William Shannon, son of Wendell and Gracelia Shannon.

Austin High — Sarah Carper, daughter of Joe and Anne Carper; and Caleb Kirsch, son of Jeff and Amy Kirsch.

Decatur High — Sarah Hand, daughter of Donna and Richard Hand; and John Woller III, son of Suzanne and John Woller Jr.

Lauren Grantham of Vinemont High School was named a National Merit semifinalist in September with the other six students. Principal Ronnie Barnes said Thursday he had not received a notice on whether Grantham advanced.

About 90 percent of Merit semifinalists advance to finalist. More than 1.4 million students in nearly 21,000 high schools entered the program when they took the 2005 Preliminary Stanford Achievement Test/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test as juniors. The national pool of finalists represents less than 1 percent of U.S. high school seniors.

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