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40 students from Chattanooga area named National Merit Semifinalists

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Tellico Plains High School senior Joseph Bivens is making school history today.

Bivens is one of 40 area National Merit Semifinalists announced today by the National Merit Scholarship Corp., and Tellico Plains Principal Russell Harris believes the student is the first from the school to achieve the academic honor.

Students began the 59th annual National Merit Scholarship process by taking the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test during their junior year.

According to the National Merit Scholarship Corp., 1.5 million juniors in more than 22,000 high schools across the country took the 2012 test.

Of those, 16,000 students scored high enough to qualify as semifinalists -- less than 1 percent of all U.S. high school seniors, according to program officials. All semifinalists are now eligible to compete for 8,000 National Merit Scholarships valued at $35 million.

Locally, Baylor School led the way with six semifinalists, closely followed by McCallie School and Signal Mountain Middle-High School, each with five.

"It is a privilege to work with students who are literally among the best in the nation; and, in turn, they have learned at the feet of an extraordinary faculty. I am so proud of them and truly look forward to following their college careers and their lives in the coming years," said Baylor School Headmaster Scott Wilson.

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