The Edmond Sun

January 18, 2013

Santa Fe senior snags top score on ACT

Patty Miller
The Edmond Sun

EDMOND — Derek Knowles is a senior at Santa Fe High School and recently found out he is one of two Edmond students so far to earn a perfect score of 36 on his ACT exam.

Derek said he prepared for the test by taking ACT practice tests a week before the test and applying all of the testing strategies and studying strategies that apply directly to ACT testing.

“The ACT test is made up of so many sections that all of my classes combined really helped me when I took the test,” Derek said.

He said he thinks having confidence and never giving up and following through with his plans really helped him.

“This is the fourth time I took the test,” Derek said. “I think taking the test multiple times helped me. I took it for the first time in the seventh grade. This was the last test date before some of my applications would be accepted so I knew this would be the last time I would be able to take it.”

Derek said he doesn’t think anyone ever knows how they are going to do on the test until they get their score. He found out his score when he was vacationing with his family in Thailand while visiting his brother who is working there.

He said he had help and encouragement all along the way.

“My parents are always encouraging me on my school work to do my best,” Derek said, “and my counselor Mrs. (Linda) Hood is a great counselor.

“I have had three principals and I think all of them were supportive and helped me in different ways. My freshman year Jason Brown was my principal, my sophomore year was Earl Kirkpatrick and this year my principal is Jason Hayes. My friends have encouraged me, also.”

Derek plans to attend Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, and major in engineering.

In addition to his studies, Derek is an Eagle Scout, and he is in the drum line in the concert band and is active with his church youth group. Derek plans to serve a mission with the Mormon church when he graduates.

“I think the No. 1 thing that I would suggest to other students thinking about taking the test is to take it multiple times,” Derek said. “That is what helped me the most.”

Jason Hayes, Derek’s principal, said, “Derek Knowles stands out as one of Santa Fe’s most successful students. … Derek has earned the respect and admiration of both the students and the faculty of Santa Fe High School. Among ACT-tested U.S. high school graduates in the class of 2012, only 781 out of more than 1.66 million students earned a composite score of 36. We are very proud of Derek Knowles for having reached this level of achievement.”

 Derek took four Advanced Placement classes as a junior and is enrolled in AP English Literature, AP Government and AP Physics B while enrolled concurrently at the University of Central Oklahoma in Calculus 4. His Calculus professor Thomas Milligan is the father of another student who also scored a perfect 36 on the ACT.

With the exception of attending fourth and fifth grades in Houston, Derek is a product of the Edmond Public Schools.

He is the son of Connie and Steve Knowles.