Science Hill juniors, left to right, Greta Higginbotham, Franklin Dyer and Helen Hoye.

Science Hill trio earns perfect score on ACT, 89 others finish with 30 or above


Science Hill students Franklin Dyer, Helen Hoye and Greta Higginbotham were admittedly surprised to learn the news. But it didn’t take long for that surprise to turn into excitement once the juniors learned that they had aced the ACT.

The three juniors all learned last month that they made a perfect 36 on the ACT - the standardized test used for college admissions in the United States – and were three of 92 Toppers that scored a 30 or above.

“We are tremendously proud that three students from Science Hill High School achieved a perfect score on the ACT, a nationally recognized instrument for measuring college readiness,” Science Hill principal Todd Barnett said. “This extraordinary level of performance by Franklin, Helen and Greta, as well as those who achieved a 30 or above, demonstrate their commitment to getting the most out of themselves, making the most of the opportunities offered at Science Hill and positioning themselves for success at the collegiate level.”

To make the matter even a bit more surprising, it was the trio’s first time taking the test.


“I didn’t think it was too hard, but I did not think that I was going to make a perfect score,” Hoye said through a smile. “I was so excited when I opened the scores, I went and told my parents and then I almost started crying.”

Any spare time that Hoye had between playing the violin and dancing, she spent taking practice tests. Having outlets like orchestra and dance helped her focus when it was time and decompress.

“I feel like it is a really big stress relief, it helps me relax and I can do something else and really take my mind off the stress of school and having to take tests and do homework,” Hoye said.

Besides just taking the practice tests, Hoye said that timing herself was important to help her progress.

“I would definitely practice time management,” she said. “Because it’s not so much the content of the test that it is difficult, you really just don’t have much time, so you have to be able to read all the passages fast enough and still have time to answer the questions.”

She said that she wasn’t sure where she wanted to go to school yet, but she was pretty sure that her love of science and interest in solving crimes have prepared her for a career in forensic science.

Higginbotham enjoys another type of science and hopes to use physics and math to study the universe. She has become a big fan of Stephen Hawking and recently took the dive into his international best-seller “A Brief History of Time.”

With her natural knack for math and science, Higginbotham said that she spent most of her time taking practice tests and studying for the English and reading sections.

“Because I felt like if I didn’t bring those up, that would probably be what I was lacking,” she said. “So I did multiple workbooks and multiple practice tests on those things.”

Higginbotham said that she did not time herself, because she knows her tendency to go fast on tests.

“I knew that time wasn’t going to be an issue, it was just making sure that I knew how to do the problems,” Higginbotham said.

The junior said that she has always dreamed of attending Yale, but she will start the college process soon and has also thought of the University of Chicago. One thing that she knows she will take with her is the work ethic she developed and fine-tuned in high school.

“Make sure you have the work ethic,” she said as advice to students. “Because without the work ethic, it is much harder.”

A strong work ethic is something that Dyer also developed and credited to his perfect score.

Dyer has a pure love for mathematics and hopes to pass his passion on to students after he gets done with his schooling and becomes a teacher. He noted his admiration for Science Hill math teacher Guy Mauldin, who has taught at Science Hill for over three decades.

He said that he hopes to help students overcome any discomfort with math - he’s already been practicing as he tutors Liberty Bell students during his spare time.

“There is kind of the widespread view about math by my peers that it is kind of a chore,” Dyer said. “And as a teacher, someone might be able to change that or give a different view of that. Or at least help people who are having trouble with it, even if you can’t change their minds of perspectives toward it.”

It appears that Dyer didn’t have much difficulty with the ACT, either. He noted that he didn’t really practice much for the test.

“I didn’t feel bad about it when I left, I just wasn’t really sure what to think,” said Dyer, who mentioned finding out that he got a perfect score on the ACT was a pleasant surprise.

Dyer is exploring his options for college - he is currently looking at Amherst College, University of Chicago and Reed College - and said he may major in philosophy. But he will definitely major in math.

“Doing math makes me really happy and I really enjoy it,” Dyer said. “One of the most satisfying things about math is that you are either right or wrong with your answer.”

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