Two area students named National Merit Semifinalists

Published 6:00 am Thursday, November 19, 2009

Parker Reeves, of Mississippi School of the Arts, and WhitneyKnight, of Wesson Attendance Center, are two very differentstudents with different backgrounds, but they have one thing incommon.

They are both National Merit Semifinalists – the only ones inthe area as a matter of fact.

“It’s definitely the most prestigious thing I’ve ever done,which is cool,” said Reeves, a senior from Southaven. “This rankspretty high.”

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Knight, who has been on the superintendent’s list for herstellar grades for as long as she remembers, said one of herfavorite quotes is by Walt Disney – “All our dreams can come trueif we have the courage to pursue them.”

“To me, this is hard work paying off,” she said.

Both students said they have gotten letters from schools allover the country.

Knight said she’s particularly intrigued by one from theUniversity of Central Florida, in spite of several offers from IvyLeague schools. Reeves said he’d gotten some pretty impressiveletters too.

“Harvard sent me an application but they turn down, like,everyone,” he said with a laugh. “But that was exciting.”

Both seniors said they enjoy reading, which is a possible reasonfor Knight’s aspirations of being an English and Spanish teacherwhen she graduates from college.

“It’s something I feel called to do,” she said.

Meanwhile, Reeves, who comes to MSA from Southaven High School,said he also enjoys science. He’s had his rounds with all thesubjects, as a matter of fact.

“Science can be pretty fun, and I actually used to like mathuntil I got to Algebra II,” he said.

But their hobbies are divergent, though both artistic andexpressive.

“I like to oil paint,” Knight said, adding that she takeslessons from Jean Tolbert in Brookhaven. “I also like to play withmy puppy Gabbi.”

Reeves, who is a literary student at MSA, has musical interestsas well. He said he plays the guitar in his free time and listensto “a lot of hardcore music.”

Overall, both students said they are excited to hear back fromthe National Merit Corporation on whether or not they’ve beenselected as National Merit Finalists. In September, 16,000semifinalists are announced, and only 1,000 are cut before thefinal 15,000 in the country are notified in February.

“I’m really glad I’ve made it this far, and the further I can gothe happier I’ll be,” Reeves said. “I’m looking at this as anopportunity to help me go to college. The Ivy League would be cool,but I’ll go wherever I can get the best education and the bestdeal.”