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Two Hall students are National Merit Scholar Finalists
Matthew  Olson
Matthew Olson

Two schools in Hall County have turned out National Merit Scholar Finalists.

Chestatee High’s Matt Olson and North Georgia Christian Academy’s Ric Newsom scored high enough on the Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test to rank them among the top 1 percent of students nationwide.

Olson and Newsom also earned the honor based on their grade-point averages and challenging course work.

Olson will start school at Georgia Tech this fall and plans to become an engineer. Georgia Tech offered the Chestatee graduate a scholarship in connection with him being named a National Merit Scholar Finalist.

Newsom hopes to attend Washington & Lee University in Lexington, Va., this fall to study political science, North Georgia Christian School Principal Carol Cox said.

Cox said Newsom is one of the 16 students who graduated Friday from North Georgia Christian and is the school’s second National Merit Scholar Finalist in a row. Last year, Lisa Sutton was one of North Georgia’s 12 graduates and named a National Merit Scholar Finalist.

"His big dream is to be an adviser to the president," Cox said of Newsom. "He doesn’t want to be the president; he wants to be an adviser to the president."

Cox said the class of 2009 is the fourth to graduate from the Gainesville private school. She said educators at North Georgia Christian are thrilled to see their students emerging as the brightest in the nation.

"We’re trying to shout it from the rooftops," she said. "There are two parts to it. No. 1, you’ve got to have the student who has the God-given abilities and talent and intellect. The school’s part is to nurture that, which is a challenge when you have really bright students."