Dobyns-Bennett Students Recognized in National Merit® Scholarship Program

Published on September 13, 2017 at 11:07 a.m.

Kingsport, Tenn. – Five Dobyns-Bennett High School students have been named as Semifinalists for the 63rd Annual 2018 National Merit Scholarship Program, a program designed to identify and honor the top high school students in the United States.

Those named as National Merit Scholarship Semifinalists from D-B are Ashley Elizabeth Batts, daughter of David and Michele Batts, John Lewis Corker, son of Cliff and Alice Corker, Nathaniel Silvey, son of Danny and Cindy Silvey, Kate Tolleson, daughter of John and Ginette Tolleson, and Rithvik Vutukuri, son of Suresh Vutukuri and Sunita Gunda. These five students will compete with the top high school students in the nation for some 7,500 National Merit Scholarships worth approximately $32 million that will be offered in spring 2018.

About 1.6 million juniors in more than 22,000 high schools entered the 2018 completion by taking the 2016 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT), which served as an initial screening of program entrants. The nationwide pool of Semifinalists, represents less than one percent of U.S. high school seniors and includes the highest scoring entrants in each state. Merit Scholar designees are selected on the basis of their skills, accomplishments, and potential for success in rigorous college studies, without regard to gender, race, ethnic origin, or religious preference.

“The five students recognized are exceptional individuals within an exceptional class of students. They have taken challenging course work, served as leaders in various areas within the school and served as role models to their peers,” said Dobyns-Bennett Principal Dr. Chris Hampton. “I have no doubt they will be very successful as they finish their senior year and pursue exciting opportunities beyond Dobyns-Bennett.  We are eager to learn of their future accomplishments and accolades and hope they will bring their talents back to Kingsport to further strengthen our community.”


To become a Finalist, the Semifinalist and his/her high school must submit a detailed scholarship application, in which information is provided regarding the Semifinalist’s academic record, participation in school/community activities, demonstrated leadership abilities, employment and honors/awards received. A Semifinalist must have an outstanding academic record throughout high school, be endorsed and recommended by a high school official, write an essay, and earn SAT scores that confirm the student’s earlier performance on the qualifying test.

From approximately 16,000 students qualified as Semifinalists, about 90 percent of the semifinalists are expected to advance to the Finalist standing, and more than half of the Finalists will win a National Merit Scholarship, earning the Merit Scholar® title. National Merit Scholarships winners of 2018 will be announced beginning in April and concluding in July.

For more information on the National Merit Scholarship Program, please contact the Dobyns-Bennett High School Counseling Office at (423) 378.8409 or visit

Kingsport City Schools (KCS) is a public school district located in Kingsport, Tenn., serving students in Sullivan and Hawkins county. The district is comprised of 13 schools, including a Pre-K, eight elementary schools, two middle schools, one high school, a high school program of choice and an alternative learning program; with total enrollment over 7,700 students. The vision of Kingsport City Schools is to be, Student Focused … World Class.

KCS has been named the top school district in Tennessee as winner of the 2014 SCORE Prize District Award by the State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE) and has earned the 2014 Achievement Award in the annual Excellence in Tennessee Recognition Program by the Tennessee Center for Performance Excellence (TNCPE).

For more information on KCS, visit, listen live on WCSK 90.3 FM, The Voice of KCS, read our blog, We Are KCS, download our mobile app for Apple / Android devices or call (423) 378.2100. We’re social too; follow us on Facebook (Kingsport City Schools), Twitter (@KCS_District), LinkedIn (Kingsport City Schools) and check out our YouTube Channel (KPTSchools).