LAMAR COUNTY, MS (WDAM) - Six Oak Grove High School seniors are top scorers on national standardized tests.
Dalton Fox, Sarah Hadley Greer, Jason Guo, Allen Huang, Ruby Liang and Winston Wilkinson are National Merit Semifinalists after scoring highly on the PSAT they took as juniors, and each also scored above a 30 on the ACT.
"I was really surprised," Liang said. "I was really happy. I went home, and I talked to my mom. My mom was really happy, and we went out and celebrated."
"When we hear results like this, it's that payoff feeling, like, that's why we do this day in and day out," said Helen Price, principal at Oak Grove High School. "It pays off for the students, and it encourages our teachers to work hard as they do."
Three of the six, Fox, Guo and Huang achieved the top ACT score of 36, with Fox receiving a perfect 36 in each section of the test.
"It's very exciting to finally be able to see my scores and see the reward after all this hard work," Guo said. "Honestly, I was a little surprised. This one (ACT), I just sort of did whatever on it, and when I saw the score, I was definitely surprised. It was a good surprise though."
Huang said, "I was pretty happy all the hard work had finally paid off. It was pretty nice. I was like 'Wow, this is a pretty good score.' I wasn't expecting it, but it was a nice surprise."
Fox said, "It's pretty exciting. You wait up all night waiting for those scores to come out, and so when you open it up on your, and you're like, 'Oh, I did it,' it's really cool."
Hadley Greer and Wilkinson scored a 35, just one point shy of perfect.
"I cried, honestly," Hadley Greer said. "I was so excited and very shocked. I'm so excited. It's great all the hard work is paying off."
Wilkinson said, "I was pretty excited because I didn't expect to do so well. I hadn't been doing as well on practice tests."
Hadley Greer said her parents were thrilled too.
"They're very excited," she said. "It's going to be great not having to pay for college, I'm sure."
Scholarship opportunities are just one of the major benefits that comes with top PSAT and ACT scores.
"It just opens up doors and opportunities for these students that they wouldn't have otherwise," Price said. "Any time we can provide that for any of our students at any level, then we feel like we're doing our part and doing our job. That's kind of an in house challenge that we have: how many students can we get 29 and above? Because 29 on an ACT in Mississippi is eminent scholar, which provides a lot of opportunities, scholarship opportunities, for students in Mississippi. So we shoot for that. We work for that."
Most of the group is still in the midst of completing college applications, but they have sights set on schools like Stanford, MIT and the University of Pennsylvania.
Future career plans are also still in the works, but possibilities included law with a goal of being a criminal defense attorney, physics and astrophysics to become a researcher and medicine with future specialties to be determined.
"It's a hard test, and we're all really lucky we did that well," Hadley Greer said.