Carpenter named Cathedral School’s 2016 STAR student

Published 12:01 am Thursday, May 12, 2016

NATCHEZ — Cathedral’s 2016 STAR Student Jackson Carpenter has proven during the ACT testing process he is dedicated to accomplishing his goals.

Given by the Mississippi Economic Council, the STAR Student award recognizes students for academic and ACT test achievement.

When Carpenter was in the seventh grade, he set a goal of making a 32 on the ACT so he could get a full- scholarship to the University of Alabama. In September, he achieved that goal, but he admits hitting the goal took perseverance.

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“I made a 29 four times in a row,” he said. “After the fourth time, I decided I was going to crack down and really study.

“I’d see my friends were outside playing, and I’d want to go. But I didn’t want to look back and wonder, ‘Could I have done it?’”

The 18-year-old son of Todd and Emily Carpenter credits his family for that particular success, as well as his STAR teacher, Cathedral science instructor Denise Thibodeaux.

“The first time I took the ACT, science was my low score at 16,” Jackson Carpenter said. “Every year, through ACT preparation in her class, my score increased more and more until finally I made a 34 on the science portion in September.”

Though tempted to accept his 29, Carpenter’s parents encouraged him to keep trying to increase his composite score.

“They got me into an online class because they knew if I did what I was supposed to do, I would push beyond that wall,” he said.

Thibodeaux said topping 30 on the ACT is a major accomplishment.

“I see so many students bottoming out at 29,” she said. “I think that’s the largest one point leap on the test.”

Thibodeaux, a third-time STAR teacher, said she was honored to be selected by Carpenter, who she has known since he was 8 years old.

“I have been fortunate to teach him four years in a row, and he by far had the highest average in every one of my classes,” Thibodeaux said. “He is just a very multi-talented person. He is persistent — when he sets a goal, you know he is going to achieve it.”

Carpenter said since he was a young child he has planned to attend the University of Alabama, and perhaps he wanted to go to college there even before he could use words.

“I had Alabama bibs when I was a baby,” he said, laughing. “There was a time period where I wasn’t 100 percent, but that changed when I started to go to the school (for sporting events) more frequently.

“I fell in love with the campus all over again.”

The senior said he plans to major in business administration and ultimately continue on to achieve his master’s in business administration. He credits his father for that desire.

“My dad — he didn’t start with a lot,” Carpenter said, explaining the inspiration to study business. “How he worked his way up and how well he has done has inspired me to do the same.”

Carpenter said when he gets to where he is going, he wants to be able to make a difference by giving back to the community. Carpenter said he views his future like a math formula.

“I have the problem, and I’m trying to figure out the answer,” he said. “I know I would like to own a conglomeration of businesses.”

Carpenter said he enjoys spending time with his family, being outdoors and playing sports. He plays basketball, football and tennis, plus he’s also an aspiring triathlete.

“I’ve done one triathlon and I look to do more in the future,” he said. “Training for a triathlon is a big-time commitment, but I enjoy it.”

While Carpenter said he will miss Cathedral after graduation, he is looking forward to college.

“I’m nervous about it,” he said. “College is basically a long four years on your own.

“But I’m excited about it, too. I have family in Tuscaloosa, so it will be great to be able to connect with them.”