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BRIGHT FUTURE: Senior striving for higher score

LAUREN WOOD / THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Adams County Christian School senior Ashton Mason is gearing up to take the ACT for the fourth time in December in hopes of scoring a 29, which will earn her more scholarship money if she attends Mississippi College next fall. Mason’s highest score is currently 27. Mason hopes to study biology in college.

NATCHEZ — Adams County Christian School senior Ashton Mason made the grade to qualify as a top student in Mississippi, but it was two months too late — which was news to her.

When she took the ACT in February, Mason scored a 25, the minimum requirement to be eligible to be selected for the Student-Teacher Achievement Recognition, or STAR, program, an honor given only to high school juniors.

Knowing that STAR students have a shot at receiving up to $24,000 in scholarship money, Mason had an extra reason to celebrate her highest score yet on the standardized test — until the bad news was delivered.

“In order to qualify to be a STAR student you had to have gotten that score during the December testing, and I took it in February,” Mason said. “I had no idea that was the case, or I would have taken it earlier.”

“I wasn’t too happy to hear that.”

While the news wasn’t the easiest to deal with at first, Mason said it wasn’t enough to keep her down in the dumps.

After spending all summer with that thought in the back of her mind, Mason stepped up to the plate again earlier this month and scored a 27 on the test.

“I really learned how to utilize time management to go through the entire test answering the (questions) I knew first, and then going back to answer the harder ones later,” Mason said. “That helped a lot, but it just depends because this last test I didn’t study as much, and I got my highest score.”

But even her most recent score of 27 wasn’t good enough for Mason, who said she’s going to hit the books and prepare to take the test one last time in December.

The goal this time, Mason said, is to score at least a 29 — enough to ensure she’ll receive more scholarship money next year when she, hopefully, moves off to Clinton to attend Mississippi College.

“If I can get a 29, it’ll bump me up to the next bracket range for scholarship money,” Mason said. “With the score I have now I can get between $6,000 to $7,000, but with a 29 I can get between $9,000 and $15,000.”

And the key to achieving the 29 test score in December will be improving her math score, Mason said.

“English is my strongest subject, and I got a 32 in that subject this past time, so for this test I’m really going to be focusing on math,” she said. “Anything with geometry and a figure, I’ll do first because that’s my strongest subject in math.

“Algebra II will be second and anything with trigonometry will be last.”

But even with strong English and improving math scores, it’s the science field that Mason said she’s drawn to the most.

“I just enjoy science a lot more than anything else,” Mason said. “I’m planning on majoring in biology with a pre-med focus at (Mississippi College) and then going somewhere else for medical school.”

Juggling softball, cheerleading, track and field and a number of other school groups and activities won’t get in the way of the prize at the finish line, Mason said.

“I went and did a campus tour at (Mississippi College) and just felt an overwhelming peace when I walked on campus,” Mason said. “I’m really big with my church and with it being a Christian school, it’s a perfect match.

“But LSU is my second option, because I’m an LSU fan all the way.”

No matter which school she ends up choosing, Mason said she knows they both come with a big price tag, which is the ultimate motivation for scoring well on her upcoming test

“It would mean a lot for me to get that score, because I know that’s less money my parents have to pay for my school,” Mason said. “And it might mean a new car for me around Christmas time, hopefully.”

Mason is the daughter of Matt Mason and Leigh Anne Mason.