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Local seniors named National Merit semifinalists

By Bayne Hughes 340-2432

Eight students representing six local high schools are among 16,000 semifinalists in the 53rd Annual National Merit Scholarship Program.

These academically talented high school seniors have an opportunity to continue in the competition for 8,200 Merit Scholarship awards, worth $34 million, later this spring.

About 90 percent of the semifinalists attain finalist standing. About half of the finalists will be selected Merit Scholarship winners, earning the Merit Scholar title.

More than 1.4 million juniors in nearly 21,000 high schools entered the merit scholarship program by taking the 2006 Preliminary Stanford Achievement Test/National Merit Qualifying Test.

Semifinalists represent less than 1 percent of U.S. high school seniors.

Local National Merit semifinalists are:

Athens Bible School

Matthew W. Leopard: Son of Jeff and Joy Leopard. He is a member of Scholars' Bowl, History Club, Robotics Team, Beta Club, National Society of High School Scholars, Who's Who Among America's High School Students and the National Honor Society. He participated in Alabama Boys State, and has been a class officer twice. He played baseball and will play varsity basketball this year.

Jonathan Pittman: Son of Don and Donna Pittman. He played alto sax in the ABS band. He has been elected a class officer several years. He has been a member of Scholars' Bowl, student council, History Club and Beta Club. He participated in basketball, track and cross country.

Athens High School

Colin Whitworth: Son of Rick and Peggy Whitworth. Colin is the drum major of the Golden Eagles marching band and a member of the Scholars' Bowl team and TRAIL (Together Renewing And Improving Limestone) philanthropic club.

Austin High School

Andrew Tuggle: Son of Tim and Wanda Tuggle. Andrew plays football and is a member of the Austin chorus and the robotics and engineering teams.

Decatur High School

William Looney: Son of Ken and Debbie Looney. William is in the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program. He plays football and is a member of the Spanish Club. He is an IB volunteer with the Decatur High Developmental Program.

Hillary Miller: Daughter of Roger Miller and Cynthia Miller. Hillary is section leader in the Decatur Youth Orchestra, a Chamber Choir and Alabama All-State Choir member and a member of the French and drama clubs.

Hartselle High School

Laura Davis: Daughter of Dr. John and Jean-Marie Davis. Laura is a member of the National Honor Society, Mu Alpha Theta, Scholars' Bowl and Science Olympiad and president of the Key Club.

Way Home Christian Academy

Adam Couch: Son of Tim and Deborah Taylor. Adam is home-schooled. He is a member of the Beta Club and the Boy Scouts, where he recently earned the rank of Eagle Scout.

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