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.