CANTON, Miss. (WLBT) - The Canton Public School District is saluting a 12-year-old student for an outstanding achievement.
Kristen Rhodes is breaking barriers when it comes to excelling in the classroom.
Besides math and going to school, reading is one of [her] favorite things to do. She said she started reading when she was just two-years-old.
“Well if you read more, then you’ll read better. Then you’ll increase your vocabulary," said Kristen. “Which means people will see you with a lot more respect. When you use bigger words, people respect you more.”
A sixth-grader at Huey Porter Middle School, the student recently took the ACT for the first time and accomplished something that’s not unheard of, but rare for someone her age. She scored a 27, nine points shy of what’s considered a perfect score. “It was actually easier than I expected,” she said.
Kristen, who is already studying to receive a higher score the next time she takes the test, said at first she thought her score was “low,” but her parents reminded her that the test was typically for people who were 18... and she’s breaking barriers at the age of 12.
Kristen’s parents, Cheleta and Samuel [Rhodes], know first-hand how amazing their daughter is -- but they were still shocked at the news.
“My husband opened it first and he told me the score and I didn’t believe him,” Cheleta said jokingly. “I expected her to do well, but not that well.”
“I was actually just shocked,” Samuel recalled. “I knew she would do well, but to see that 27, it really did something."
Kristen also has a perfect score on the Mississippi Academic Assessment Program Test and was two points away from being perfect on the English Language Arts test. Now a seventh-grader, she’s taking eighth-grade Algebra.
“They’ve always encouraged me to do my very best, and remind me that even if I don’t do great, they’ll still love me,” Kristen said about her parents.
Cheleta said she and Samuel exposed their children to words, colors, puzzles and board games while they were young and curious.
“Anything is possible if you put forward the effort," she said. "A lot of people underestimate what their children can comprehend and understand. There is no such thing as starting too early. Just give it a try.”
Kristen agrees with her mom, and said teachers are just as important to the learning process because they are “half of what you need to know and what contributes to your success academically.” The other half? Your parents and family.
She said if your parents send you to school with the attitude that you don’t need to do anything, you won’t. But if they send you to school with the attitude that you need to do the best you can do, then you will.
“Just because you can’t absorb [knowledge] as well as everybody else, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. Trying is the entire battle,” said Kristen.
Teacher Courtney Luckett-Knight said Kristen has not only influenced students in her grade by achieving such a high score on the ACT, but also students in the grades higher than her.
Principal Michael Ellis is also proud of Kristen.
“We’re just proud of her accomplishments,” said Principal Ellis. “Not just for Porter Middle School, but for her family and the Canton Public School District.”
Kristen said her future goals include getting a job and living a good life. She’s thinking about attending MIT or Alcorn for college, and hopes to go into the coding and programming field.
“I just always do my best,” said Kristen. “The 27 was my best then, and I’ve learned much more since then, so I’m going to apply that to the next time I take the test and I’m going to score higher.”
Her parents goal? They just want their child to find her passion and be happy, regardless of what she decides to do.