5 Hamilton County Seniors Are National Merit Finalists

Thursday, February 13, 2020
Pictured on top, left to right: Sofia R. McDonough, Chattanooga School for the Arts and Sciences and Jackson Cannon, Signal Mountain Middle/High; bottom, left to right: Maggie Meller and Gabe Williams, Signal Mountain Middle/High
Pictured on top, left to right: Sofia R. McDonough, Chattanooga School for the Arts and Sciences and Jackson Cannon, Signal Mountain Middle/High; bottom, left to right: Maggie Meller and Gabe Williams, Signal Mountain Middle/High

The list of National Merit Finalists released this week includes five seniors from Hamilton County Schools. Three of the five are from Signal Mountain Middle/High, one is from Chattanooga School for the Arts and Sciences, and one is from GPS. 

Students named finalists are the highest-scoring students in each state and continue in the competition for a National Merit Scholarship. These students represent the top 1.12 percent of seniors in the nation in academics.

National Merit Semifinalists are:

Chattanooga School for the Arts and Sciences 
Sofia R. McDonough

Signal Mountain Middle/High 
Jackson Cannon
Maggie Meller
Gabe Williams

Students begin the National Merit process during their junior year by taking the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. More than 1.5 million juniors in high schools across the country took the test this year. The test evaluates the student’s critical reading, math and writing skills. These four finalists now have the opportunity to win three different scholarship types offered through the National Merit Scholarship Corporation. Scholarships funded by over 400 sponsors and funds from the National Merit Scholarship Corporation provide college resources for these deserving teens.  

Scholarships include the National Merit Scholarship, a one-time $2,500 award, for which every finalist competes. There are also Corporate-sponsored scholarships given to students with career plans the sponsor wishes to encourage. College-sponsored scholarships are given to students with plans to attend a sponsor’s college and are renewable for up to four years. Scholarships are awarded from March to June to approximately 7,500 finalists, chosen based on their abilities, skills and accomplishments.
 
Sofia McDonough, a senior at Chattanooga School for the Arts and Sciences, is interested in a career in a STEM field. She has volunteered at the Tennessee Aquarium during her time in high school and is very interested in the environment. At Chattanooga School for the Arts and Sciences, Ms. McDonough has been active in volleyball, Student Government Association, Paideia Society, Model UN, Governor’s School for Visual Arts, TSA, Youth Orchestra and CSAS Orchestra. 

Jackson Cannon, a senior at Signal Mountain Middle/High, is involved in the Model UN, Beta Club and the National Honor Society, and he is on the bowling team at Signal Mountain. His career interests are undecided, but he is considering arts and sciences. 

Maggie Meller, a senior at Signal Mountain Middle/High, would like to major and earn a master’s degree in materials science and engineering with a minor in industrial packaging and design. She is involved in Mock Trial and Model UN, allowing her to combine academics and her love for theatre. Ms. Meller also served as student body president at Signal Mountain.  

Gabe Williams, a senior at Signal Mountain Middle/High, plays tennis, is in the Student Council, is vice president of the Signal Mountain Honors Society chapter, and participates in Model UN and Youth in Government. He was individual singles state champion in tennis in 2018 and elected to the student council for the past three years. Mr. Williams is currently secretary of the student body. He would like to attend a small liberal arts college and plans to study chemistry.

Komal Patri
Girls Preparatory School

Komal Patri attended Girls Preparatory School through her junior year and would be a senior this year if not for her acceptance into the prestigious Resident's Honors Program at the University of Southern California. She initially began the program's application as a means to practice the college application process. However, as she researched the opportunity, she became enamored with the program, applied, and was accepted. She also received USC's Presidential Scholarship Award. A Bruiser since sixth grade, Komal wrestled with leaving GPS a year early, but ultimately chose to accept the amazing opportunity at USC with plans to return to GPS this spring to participate in commencement exercises with her classmates. 

Komal Patri of GPS
Komal Patri of GPS

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