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KNOXVILLE — The Tennessee Governor’s Academy for Mathematics and Science has named its inaugural class of 24 high school juniors.

The students, 12 young men and 12 young women, are the first selected to take part in the new academy, located in Knoxville and managed by the University of Tennessee. Chosen from nearly 200 applicants, the inaugural class represents the top students from throughout the state. The school opens on Aug. 19.

Members of the class come from 20 different counties across the state.

“All of these young people have distinguished themselves, even at this early stage in their lives,” said TGA’s executive director, Vena Long. “In the selection process, they showed not just talent, but passion for math and science.”

TGA students will live and learn in two residential cottages on the campus of the Tennessee School for the Deaf in Knoxville. They also will travel to laboratories at UT and Oak Ridge National Laboratory to learn about and assist in research. They will take part in trips across the state to other critical scientific sites.

Long, who also serves as the associate dean in UT’s College of Education, Health and Human Sciences, likens the TGA experience to a “yearlong field trip.” The academy features an innovative curriculum of learning modules — two- and three-week sessions built around critical scientific questions.

“Our goal with TGA is to give these students who have shown a desire to pursue a life in science and math a completely singular experience that will prepare them not only for college but for a life of pursuing knowledge,” said Long.

Members of the inaugural class — all rising juniors — are listed below with their high school and hometown.

– Ian Blair, Lenoir City High School, Lenoir City
– Alexandra Brunson, Bearden High School, Knoxville
– Andrea Castillo, Hardin County High School, Savannah
– Butch Cross, Science Hill High School, Johnson City
– Rebecca Graves, Sequoyah High School, Tellico Plains
– Su Ji Jeong, Westview High School, Martin
– Caleb Jones, Cannon County High School, Woodbury
– Shuvam Kabir, Williamsburg Independent High School, Jellico
– Luke Laudermilk, Gibson County High School, Humboldt
– Gina Lebkuecher, Sycamore High School, Ashland City
– Lauren Leggett, Cumberland County High School, Crossville
– Brittany Lucas, Ridgeway High School, Memphis
– Ben Owens, Houston High School, Germantown
– Zeke Reeves, South Doyle High School, Knoxville
– Elizabeth Roadinger, Coffee County Central High School, Manchester
– Ethan Sanders, Stone Memorial High School, Crossville
– Bob Shi, Martin Luther King Jr. Magnet School, Nashville
– Aaron Smith, Dickson County High School, Dickson
– Kayce Smith, Waverly Central High School, Waverly
– Margaret Sudderth, Alcoa High School, Alcoa
– Mary Rose Teague, Hixson High School, Hixson
– Tania Torchon, Nashville School of the Arts, Nashville
– Jay Wilcox, Ravenwood High School, Brentwood
– Eric Wilhite, Sevier County High School, Kodak

Students are admitted to the two-year TGA program as juniors, and next year’s incoming class is also expected to consist of 24 students. More information about TGA is available at

Key partners in the Tennessee Governor’s Academy include UT, TSD, the Tennessee Department of Education, the Tennessee State Board of Education, ORNL, Oak Ridge Associated Universities and Knox County Schools.


Jay Mayfield (865-974-9409,