Oak Mountain student receives perfect score on ACT

Published 9:20 am Wednesday, June 19, 2024

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By TYLER RALEY | Special to the Reporter

NORTH SHELBY – Gifted knowledge and study habits in his back pocket, it was all smiles for Oak Mountain High School sophomore Daniel Collins as he exited the ACT Test in February having scored a perfect 36.

This was Collins’ first time taking the exam after taking the PreACT at the high school. He scored a 34 on the last exam, and after a lot of thought, decided to take a stab at the real thing just to see where he was at.

“I felt really good about the question part of it,” Daniel said. “I didn’t really think about the actual ACT until maybe the next day or two days after and I was like ‘I think I did really good. I’m feeling in the 30s.’”

Daniel heard the scores came out through a text he received from his mother, Meg Collins, while he was in the middle of a class. It was only after he got out of class and was walking to his next one that he realized what he had accomplished just a short time ago.

“I was going to my next class and I decided, ‘Hey, I might as well look,’” Daniel said. “I go over it five or six times and I think ‘This is my actual score.’ Since I am alone in the hallway, I’m thinking ‘I can sprint down this hallway, that’s how much excitement I have right now.’”

Daniel’s performance on the exam comes as no surprise to his parents, Meg and Steve Collins, and they are grateful for what Oak Mountain has done for their son in catering to his learning style on a daily basis, especially considering he has been taking math classes with students older than him since he was in middle school.

“The Oak Mountain school system has been really good about getting the gifted teachers in from kindergarten with him through fifth grade,” Meg said. “Throughout his schooling here at Oak Mountain, we have just been really, really pleased, and the particular teachers that he has had through the years have really done what they can to keep him progressing and we’ve been really excited about the teachers that he has had and the care that they have given him.”

The ability to receive this kind of education has also been a blessing to Daniel, who feels blessed for the passion that his teachers hold for helping him learn this way.

“The teachers that I had and I still have are the best at taking my excitement and all the other students’ excitement for wanting to know more,” Daniel said. “Having teachers that really encourage that are what’s giving me a greater opportunity to grow and learn.”

For students in the class of 2023, the ACT reported that they scored a national average composite score of 19.5, which is the lowest the average has been since 1990. After the COVID-19 pandemic occurred in 2020, scores began a steady decline and are on the same path as of today.