Three area students competed against more than 1.3 million juniors from almost 21,000 high schools to become National Merit Scholarship semifinalists.
The National Merit Program honors individual students who show exceptional academic ability and potential for success in rigorous college studies. Less than 1 percent of seniors earn this honor.
The local students competing are Tyson Koenig at Saxony Lutheran in Jackson, and Catherine Moreton and Jesse Pyeatte at Central High School in Cape Girardeau.
Saxony Lutheran counselor Judith Fuchs said Koenig is the first semifinalist that the school have ever had.
"We are looking forward to having more in future years," she said.
Koenig's interests are not just academic. He is the captain of the Academic team, editor of the school newspaper and secretary of the student council.
History is his subject of choice, and Koenig earned himself a spot on David Letterman's show by memorizing the names of U.S. presidents when he was about 8.
Koenig said he does not want to attend college too far from home and is looking at Washington University in St. Louis along with other area schools.
Pyeatte is also looking at Washington University, though Dartmouth is his first choice, he said. He likes math and is thinking of studying engineering or architecture, though he also likes English.
It is good to finally be recognized for academics and not just athletics, he said.
He would like to play soccer in college, but said he thinks it will be on more of a club team or in intramural, not for the university.
Moreton wants to study musical theater at the University of Michigan, but said she knows that might be a long shot and is preparing to study it elsewhere.
She suggests younger students who are striving to be National Merit Scholars work on their test-taking skills and take as many practice tests as possible to become familiar with the testing rules.
Central principal Mike Cowan said that Moreton and Pyeatte are not only good students, but they are nice peple who are involved in many school activities.
"They have demonstrated leadership outside of the classroom as well as in side the classroom and I am just very very happy for them," he said.
Cowan said that having these local students competing as semifinalists is good for Central and Saxony Lutheran, but it is also a good distinction for the entire Cape Girardeau area.
Koenig is the son of Brian and Dianna Koenig of Perryville.
Moreton is the daughter of John and Nancy Moreton of Cape Girardeau.
Pyeatte is the son of Patti and Jacob Peter Pyeatte of Cape Girardeau. email@example.com