EDMOND — Two Edmond students have joined an elite club, scoring a perfect 36 on the American College Testing (ACT) examination.
David Milligan, a junior at Edmond Memorial High School, and Derek Knowles, a senior at Edmond Santa Fe, both registered the somewhat rare feat.
According to the ACT national office, more than 1.6 million ACT exams were administered in 2012. Of those, 781, or roughly 0.04 percent of test takers, logged the perfect score. The average Oklahoma score last year was just under 21.
Welcoming the news was Edmond Public Schools Superintendent David Goin.
“Derek and David deserve our utmost respect and admiration for having reached this level of achievement,” Goin said. “To receive a perfect 36 on the ACT is quite rare. On average, less than one-tenth of one percent of all test takers earn the top score. We are proud of them and congratulate them on this significant accomplishment.”
The news caught the two students a bit off guard.
“Yes, I was a bit surprised,” said Milligan, 16, who took the test in December for the second time. He first took it last year and logged a respectable 31.
For Knowles, this was his fourth ACT. His first was in the seventh grade, when he scored a 26.
About the students
Perfection on the ACT isn't the only thing Knowles and Milligan share. Both are of the Mormon faith and know each other. Each plans to attend Brigham Young University in Utah and eventually major in engineering. Milligan wants a career in chemical engineering, while Knowles is undecided between mechanical and electrical engineering.
Both are involved with music — Knowles in band and orchestra and Milligan in orchestra and men's chorus.
David is the son of Amy and Thomas Milligan. His father teaches math at the University of Central Oklahoma, where he coincidentally teaches a course in which Knowles is enrolled.
Both students are enrolled in advanced placement classes.
Derek, son of Connie and Steve Knowles, has an older brother and two older sisters. Academic skills are stressed in the family.
“We have a friendly competition,” he said.
Bringing out the best
The students' principals are proud of their accomplishments.
“Besides being a great student, Derek is a young man with great character,” said Jason Hayes, Santa Fe principal. “You'd wish you could have 2,100 students just like him. This has happened not long after we were named a Blue Ribbon school.”
Debbie Bendick is principal at Memorial and said “high expectations” are set for Memorial's students.
“The students here, David's classmates, are always trying to bring out the best in each other.”
She said Memorial students, including the National Merit Semifinalists, share one key trait.
“They are all voracious readers,” she said.
David Milligan agreed.
“Expanding the vocabulary really helps with the ACT,” he said.
A strong work ethic doesn't hurt either.
Milligan is up at 5 a.m. every day and attends seminary — an early morning spiritual education program for Mormon youth. Sometimes there isn't time for much sleep, as he also holds down a part-time job at Tinseltown theater in Oklahoma City. He's also closing in on attaining his Eagle Scout rank with a service project at Arcadia Lake.