The list of National Merit Semifinalists released recently includes ten seniors from Hamilton County Schools which is the largest number for a school district or private school in the Chattanooga area.  Six of the ten were from Signal Mountain Middle-High giving the school the largest number of teens from one school recognized in the Chattanooga area including schools in North Georgia and Northeast Alabama. The school was established in 2008, and the NMS showing is the best in the school's history. Here is the area list:


Baylor School: Jackson C. Collette, Linghan Kong, Ryker von Klar

Chattanooga Christian School: Daniel Dassow

East Hamilton Middle-High School: Benjamin Nelson

Homeschool: Ethan G. Schubert

McCallie School: James G. Leung, McCracken V. Poston, Thomas A. Shikoh, Harrison S. Stuart

Ooltewah High School: Carter J. Smith

Sewanee-St. Andrew’s School: Sophia Patterson

Signal Mountain Middle-High School: Friedrich “Max” Burk, David Cornea, Paolo P. Iacoponi, Jacob Little, Emily G. Perez, Jack Poss

Soddy-Daisy High School: Jacob R. DiChiacchio



Calhoun High School: James M. Turner

Dalton High School: Jackson L. Wright

Students named semifinalists are the highest scoring students in each state and continue in the competition for a National Merit Scholarship.  Semifinalists make up fewer than 1 percent of all U.S. high school seniors. 

“We are so proud of these amazing students for all of their hard work in achieving this prestigious accomplishment,” said Dr. Shane Harwood, principal at Signal Mountain Middle-High School. “With this being my first year at SMMHS, I also want to congratulate our amazing staff, our former principal Mr. Stinson, last year’s administrative team, and our parents for the roles they’ve played in supporting these students.”  Harwood added, “It is through a collective commitment to excellence in teaching and learning that our students aim for and reach the very highest goals, and we are so excited to see what the future holds for each of them.”

Students begin the National Merit process during their junior year by taking the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test(PSAT/NMSQT).  More than 1.6 million juniors in high schools across the country took the test this year.  The test evaluates critical reading, math, and writing skills. In the spring, National Merit will announce the winners of 7,500 Scholarships worth more than $31 million.  Finalists will be announced in February with scholarship winners announced from March to June.