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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Ten new Whittle Scholars, recipients of the University of Tennessee’s top merit scholarship, begin classes Wednesday on the Knoxville campus.

Named for Chris Whittle, founder of Whittle Communications, Channel 1 and the Edison Project, the four-year grants pay for tuition and room and board. Whittle Scholars also receive funds for an additional semester of study abroad.

UT received approximately 500 applications for the Whittle awards.

Eight of the 10 Whittle Scholars are from Tennessee. The 1999 scholars and their high schools and hometowns are:

Shelly Breeding, Council High School, Honaker, Va.; Charlie Corts, Montgomery Bell Academy, Nashville; Lariss Gardner, Lincoln County High School, Fayetteville; Ward Guenter, White Station High School, Memphis; Aaron Lay, Jellico High School, Pioneer; Julie Pedigo, Coffee County Central High School, Hillsboro.

John Starke, Alan C. Pope High School, Roswell, Ga.; Max Taylor, Westmoreland High School, Westmoreland; Michael Walker, Sevier County High School, Sevierville; and John Workman, Cleveland High School, Cleveland.

Whittle Scholars may select from any of the more than 100 academic majors at UT. To complement their academic majors, they take honors seminars on current events, critical thinking and leadership, said Dr. Thomas Broadhead, director of Honors Programs.

Each scholar completes a senior research or creative honors project, he said.