When it comes to academics, Doddridge County High School has shown its students can make the grade.
Doddridge County High students scored the third highest of any high school in the state in average ACT scores, according to a recently released report from the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission.
The Doddridge students achieved an average ACT score of 22.5 on the college preparation test, which ranks students' performances from a low score of one to a high of 36.
Even more impressive, the Doddridge County school district, as a whole, posted the highest average ACT score of any of the 55 counties. All the high schools' scores in each county were tabulated to produce the average ranking for each school district.
The report examined the scores for 1998-99 graduates enrolling in college during the fall of 1999.
Among public and private schools, Cross Lanes Christian School in Kanawha County had the highest ACT average with a score of 25, while Buffalo High in Putnam County snagged second place with an average score of 24.
Doddridge High Principal Ed Cumpston attributed his students' achievement to the quality and selection of courses available.
"We have dedicated, capable teachers and students who want to learn," he said. "The combination is success at a very high level."
The school offers students up to 24 hours of college credit courses through Fairmont and Glenville State colleges before graduation, said counselor Diana Robey. Students can take the more advanced classes in subjects like history, psychology, geography and English and receive both high school and college credit.
"We encourage students to enroll in challenging academic classes - that's the key - and not just to take classes to get by," Cumpston said.
Taking the test early is also a contributing factor to the students' success, Robey said. If they don't score as well as they hoped, they can take it again to improve.
That's a strategy that senior Alicia Holt used. She took the test last December and then again in October, and her highest score was a 26.
Holt said she felt prepared for the exam due to the 18 hours of college classes she's taken at the school. She is currently taking an English course through the University of Virginia via satellite and faxes in her quizzes and mails in research papers.
Doddridge County Superintendent Jeff Moss said he wasn't surprised at the students' scores and hopes next year will be even better.
The county has only one high school with about 425 students enrolled.
Mingo County racked up the lowest average score at 18.6, and other low-scoring counties were McDowell at 19.2, Fayette at 19.3, Upshur at 19.4 and Lewis at 19.6.
Staff writer Jennifer Biller can be reached at 626-1449 or email@example.com.