The school then began a class in the fall of 2008 to help prepare freshmen for the Preliminary SAT, the test taken by sophomores that the National Merit Scholarship Corp. uses to determine National Merit Semifinalists.
It also scheduled additional prep sessions for its students before, during and after school.
Those efforts paid off this week when THS junior Brandon Reddout was among 17 students from Northeast Mississippi who were named National Merit Semifinalists.
“It is always a good sign whenever you have students who make that list,” Curlee said. “It is an outstanding accomplishment and it speaks to the hard work and dedication of that student. We are proud for the student and proud for his family.”
About 16,000 students in the nation were named semifinalists in the National Merit Scholarship Program and will compete for 8,200 National Merit Scholarships worth more than $36 million.
For a while, THS had a run of National Merit Semifinalists; in fact, the school has had 60 such scholars since 1998-99, including as many as 11 in one year. Then came two dry years.
“We’ve gone back and redoubled our efforts, looking at where we were until a couple of years ago and where we are now,” Curlee said. “I don’t think that is anyone’s fault by any means, but it did cause us to look at where we were with our curriculum and with our attempts to better prepare young people for the PSAT. It was good to see Tupelo High back on that list.”
Reddout is one of two National Merit Semifinalists from Tupelo, joining Aaron Moeller, who is home-schooled.
Leading the area was Oxford High School, which had six Merit semifinalists: Cathy Chen, Felicity Flesher, Thomas Lutken, Jillian Mattern, Alexander Mullen and Susanna Rychlak.
Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science in Columbus had 11 semifinalists, including three from Northeast Mississippi: Lindsay Carroll (Belden), Bowen Han (Starkville) and Lacy Maxwell (Byhalia).
Other semifinalists from Northeast Mississippi include William Napier (Corinth High School), Jeffrey Jinkerson (Starkville High School), Barunie Kim (Starkville High School) and Anna Gant (Vardaman High School). In addition to Moeller, there are two other local home school students who are semifinalists: Megan VanderBijl (Byhalia) and Matthew Berk (Starkville).
Contact Chris Kieffer at (662) 678-1590 or email@example.com