Natchez High STAR student credits teacher with making him a better studentPublished 12:03am Wednesday, June 5, 2013
NATCHEZ — Michael Cleveland developed quite the routine after taking the ACT eight times.
“After the first time, the test is much easier because you know what to expect and how much time you’ll need for certain parts,” Cleveland said. “After the eighth time, I was in there ready to go and waiting on everybody else to finish after I got done.”
The Natchez High School senior and recent graduate obviously did something right those eight times, as Cleveland scored a 26 on the college preparatory test the last two times he took it in October and December.
“My goal was actually a 27, but after I got the same score twice and didn’t bump up any, I decided a 26 was fine,” Cleveland said. “The 26 score still got me a full ride to college, but the 27 would have gotten me a free laptop.”
The high score and a 4.1 grade point average earned Cleveland full tuition to Tougaloo College where he plans on studying chemistry with a pre-med emphasis this fall.
Cleveland’s high score also earned him the title of STAR student for his school.
The Student Teacher Achievement Recognition program honors one student per high school based on ACT score and academic achievement in the classroom. Cleveland joins more than 250 students from around the state who have earned the title this year.
Cleveland said being selected STAR student didn’t come as a complete shock to him.
“My group of friends and I were all kind of battling it out to see who would get it,” he said. “I kind of knew after the last round of testing, but it was just a matter of waiting for them to make it official.
“It was an honor to have been selected.”
But Cleveland said he didn’t let the honor get to his head that much.
“I might have worn my medal around school a few times,” Cleveland said, laughing. “It was a friendly competition between us, though.”
As STAR student, Cleveland chose one teacher who had the greatest impact on his educational career as STAR teacher.
Cleveland chose AP history and U.S. government teacher Creseda Crawford. Crawford has been teaching for 26 years and has been named STAR teacher twice before.
Cleveland said Crawford was involved in all the school groups and clubs he was involved in during his time at Natchez High.
“I’ve had her for something in all four years I was at Natchez High, and she just helped me become a better student and person,” Cleveland said. “We got into some arguments in the one class I had her for, but it was all in good fun.”
Cleveland graduated Friday as salutatorian of his class and said the moment was bittersweet, but also nerve wracking.
“I was just nervous about making my speech in front of all those people,” Cleveland said. “I think it went great though, at least that’s what people told me.”
Cleveland was president of the Natchez High School student council, vice president of BETA Club, chaplin of the National Honor Society, a member of the Natchez High School tennis team and president of the youth department at New Life Apostolic Church.
Cleveland is the son of Michael James Cleveland and Colleen Scott.