Five boys, five girls named as finalists for Tom and Becky program


Top row from left, Ainsley Ahrens, Noveli Collier, Claire Ver Meer, Emery McHargue and Zayli Miller. Bottom row from left, Bennett Straube, Avery Yarrington, Caleb Kurz, Korbin Asbury and Collin Steinman. | Photos courtesy of Tom and Becky Program

HANNiBAL, Mo. — The names of the five boys and five girls selected as finalists for the 2024-25 Tom and Becky program were announced Friday night by Melissa Cummins, The Mark Twain Boyhood Home & Museum’s program coordinator.

Twenty-four Tom and Becky semifinalists completed a written exam about the history of Hannibal, Mark Twain and his writings on Thursday afternoon at the Hannibal Middle School. The 12 boys and 12 girls were scored in personal interviews on Friday, April 19 at Hannibal-LaGrange University by two panels of five judges. Judges for the interviews included those familiar with the Tom and Becky Program, Samuel Clemens and his writings, Hannibal, local tourism and were parents of past Tom or Becky ambassadors.

Scores of both the test and interviews were tallied, and the top five boys and five girls were selected to represent the city of Hannibal as “goodwill ambassadors.” Their year as Tom and Becky will officially begin with the announcement of the 2024-25 official couple at noon on July 4 in Central Park during National Tom Sawyer Days. 

Becky finalists are:

  • Ainsley Ahrens, daughter of Todd and Lydia Ahrens
  • Noveli Collier, daughter of Chad and Jayne Collier
  • Emery McHargue, daughter of Sean and Erin McHargue
  • Zayli Miller, daughter of Daniel and Katie Miller
  • Claire Ver Meer, daughter of Matt and Emily Ver Meer

Tom finalists are:

  • Korbin Asbury, son of Karl and Kathy Asbury
  • Caleb Kurz, son of Brad and Sara Kurz
  • Collin Steinman, son of Kris and Laura Steinman
  • Bennett Straube, son of Andy and Gloria Straube
  • Avery Yarrington, son of Jordan and Renee Yarrington

All 10 finalists will begin preparations for the remaining two stages of the Tom and Becky judging process, which will include a two-day orientation with a panel of three judges familiar with the program in late June and final judging on July 3 with a panel of three out-of-town judges.   

Family, friends and supporters of the Tom and Becky Program are invited to attend the annual Tom and Becky dinner cruise aboard the Mark Twain Riverboat on June 18. Tickets will be available for the cruise by contacting any of the 10 finalists or through the Tom and Becky Program by reaching out to Cummins at

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