Thursday, August 25, 2005

A Perfect Score
• Holly High student scores 500 on state biology test

Academic success is no stranger to the Govan family, but this time one of its members has accomplished something no other student in Marshall County history has done – scored a perfect 500 on one of the Mississippi Subject Area Tests.

Annie Govan, the 15-year-old daughter of Kelvin and Monica Govan of Holly Springs, was a freshman last year at Holly Springs High School. Because she was enrolled in Biology I and Algebra I courses, she had the opportunity to take her exit exams in those subjects last spring. Govan earned a 500 on the Biology I exam. She earned the school’s highest score on Algebra I as well, with a 462.

Four Subject Area tests are required for graduation for all Mississippi high school students: Algebra I, Biology I, English II, and U.S. History. Scores on the Subject Area Tests range from 100 to 500, with 300 as passing. The school is very pleased with overall results this year from the tests, with 96 percent of students passing U.S. History, 92 percent passing Biology I, 75 percent passing English II, and 63 percent passing Algebra I.

Govan said, “I was confident going into the test because Mr. Turnage is one of the greatest teachers here, and I felt prepared. But after the test was over, I felt nervous. I wasn’t sure that I had done all that well.”

Her Biology I teacher, Cravin Turnage, had more confidence in her abilities.

“I have been hoping for a 500 score for a couple of years, and I know that if anyone had done well, it would have been Annie,” he said.

Govan said that Turnage’s teaching techniques made the difference for her in learning the Biology I material.

“He uses mnemonic devices and inspirational messages for us,” she said. “Biology was my favorite subject, but it’s not just the subject matter – it’s how the teachers teach it that’s important.”

Turnage said that his teaching style encompassed reteaching, hooking new to old learning, and peer tutoring. He stated that while he worked with the entire class, he also liked to take a few minutes to take Annie to another level because of her talent and ability.

Govan’s mother, Monica Govan, the chemistry teacher at Holly Springs High, attributes her children’s success to several factors.

“Of course, they have had excellent teachers,” she said, “but they also read all the time outside of class. We watch documentaries together as a family, and they (the children) help and challenge each other.”

The Govan family is comprised of six children, with ages ranging from 8 to 19. Annie is the third. Older sister Sidney, this year a senior at Holly Springs High, earned the school’s highest score on the U.S. History test this past year. Sidney also tied with Rosemary Hicks for the school’s highest Biology I score two years ago with a 477.

Govan gives her sister Sidney some of the credit for her success.

“Other kids want to tease her about her sister scoring higher than she did, but she ignores that,” Govan said. “She feels that she’s teaching me and always wants me to do better than she does.”

Likewise, Govan plans to help her younger siblings. Her sister Brittany is in the eighth grade this year, and brother Kelvin Jr. is a seventh grader.

“I hope that the girls are setting K.J. up for his tests,” their mother said with a laugh.

Govan is involved in several activities outside of school as well, including 4-H, the Youth Group at Hopewell #1 Church, and Delteens. She serves the school as captain of the Knowledge Bowl team, as a member of the newspaper and yearbook staffs, and as a member of the school choir and track team.

Turnage indicates that Govan’s future is very bright. She has already attended the Summer Accelerated Studies at Ole Miss twice, and she holds the school’s current highest ACT score. She is interested in attending university at Ole Miss, but she is also looking farther afield at schools like Harvard. The most important thing, she said, is that the school has a good pre-med program.

Holly Springs High principal Adam Andrews said, “Annie’s accomplishment is incredible. This is an achievement that the community, her teachers, and everybody should be proud of.”

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