For 12 years, the academic records of Leigh and Meagan Stanfield have been as identical as the twins' facial features.
The 17-year-old seniors at Chattanooga School for the Arts and Sciences have maintained A averages, are Model United Nations delegates, are among the Top 10 percent of their CSAS class ranked No. 1, and both plan to attend High Point University next year.
NATIONAL MERIT SCHOLARSHIP SEMIFINALISTS
- Baylor: Tyler Blackmon, Christian Carbone, Matthew Chen, Lucas Conwell, Paige Elliott, Megan Huntsinger, Bridget Lawrence, Dabney Randall and Manning Smith-Tate
- Boyd-Buchanan: James Parker, Margaret Rox
- Collegedale Academy: Michael Chung, Chu Hyun Kim
- Chattanooga Christian: Jessica Fikkert, Matt Foreman, Richard Reinink, Jennifer Snyder
- CSAS: Meagan Stanfield and Morgan Stanfield
- Chattanooga State Middle College: Samuel Rogers
- East Hamilton: Zach McCormick, Nicholas Page
- Girls Preparatory School: Hannah Mask, Sarah Shaw
- McCallie: Bruce Baldree, Timothy Brown, Mark A. "Mac" Caldwell, Sebastian Krupa, John Miller, Brian Mu, Bharath Venkatesh and Gilbert Walton
- Sewanee-St. Andrew's: Charlie Woodlief
- Signal Mountain: Adam Stark
- Marion County: Danielle Sahud
- Georgia-Cumberland Academy: Rachel Brogden
Source: National Merit Scholarship Corp.
Now they mirror each other in their newest academic achievement: The sisters are among the region's 36 students named semifinalists in the National Merit Scholarship program. The program is sponsored annually by the National Merit Scholarship Corp.
"I'm really excited about it," said Leigh, who is identified by her first name, Morgan, in the semifinalists list. This will be really good when we are applying for colleges."
"Our parents are pretty excited about it, too," adds Meagan. "Finding out both their daughters were semifinalists was particularly special. They've always tried to instill in us the importance of academics so we can go to college."
The Stanfield sisters were among 1.5 million high school juniors nationwide who took the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test in fall 2010. According to a news release from the National Merit Scholarship Corp., the test evaluates critical reading, math and writing skills.
Of those testing, the 16,000 highest scorers nationwide qualified as semifinalists.
White Station High School in Memphis led all Tennessee schools with 21 students earning semifinalist status.
Locally, Baylor led the area with nine qualifiers, closely followed by McCallie with eight. Additionally, Baylor students Jon Won and Noah Lee scored high enough on the PSAT to qualify as semifinalists, but international students are not eligible for the competition.
East Hamilton Middle-High School welcomed its first semifinalists since opening three years ago. Seniors Zach McCormick and Nick Page are on track to also become their class's valedictorian and salutatorian, respectively.
Zach said he hopes to attend Stanford next year, while Nick plans to attend MIT.
Signal Mountain Middle/High School also logged its first honoree in Adam Stark.
All these academically talented seniors now have the opportunity to compete for $34 million in National Merit Scholarships that will be awarded in the spring.
Susan Palmer Pierce is a reporter and columnist in the Life department. She began her journalism career as a summer employee 1972 for the News Free Press, typing bridal announcements and photo captions. She became a full-time employee in 1980, working her way up to feature writer, then special sections editor, then Lifestyle editor in 1995 until the merge of the NFP and Times in 1999. She was honored with the 2007 Chattanooga Woman of ...