Going places

Fairview’s Mason Roberts: National Merit Finalist, 35 on his ACT and a full scholarship to the University of Alabama

Mason Roberts (Holli Morton)  

FAIRVIEW, Ala. – Fairview High School senior Mason Roberts has a lot to celebrate. Not only did he score a 35 on his ACT, he is also one of only two Cullman County students to be named a National Merit Finalist. Roberts, the son of Danny and Kerri Roberts, will be headed to the University of Alabama this fall after being awarded the Alabama Presidential Scholarship, which includes tuition, books, room and board and an opportunity to study abroad. Mason will graduate with the Aggie Class of 2020 May 23.

The ACT is a standardized test used by colleges to measure high school achievement and readiness for college-level academics. The ACT consists of tests in English, mathematics, reading and science, each scored on a scale of 1-36. A student’s composite score is the average of the four test scores.

Just how good is a 35? According to PrepScholar.com and ACT.org, in the class of 2018, 1,914,817 students took the ACT, with an average composite score of 20.8 out of 36. Of those, just 14,928, only 0.780%, scored a 35. That means Roberts is in the top 1%.

Students qualify for the National Merit Scholarship program by first taking the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT), after which, according to NationalMerit.org, “Of the 1.6 million entrants, some 50,000 with the highest PSAT/NMSQT Selection Index scores (calculated by doubling the sum of the Reading, Writing and Language, and Math Test scores) qualify for recognition in the National Merit Scholarship Program…. In early September, about 16,000 students, or approximately one-third of the 50,000 high scorers, are notified that they have qualified as Semifinalists.” That number drops to just 15,000 finalists.

Roberts said of his five-year scholarship, “That was from a different test, the PSAT I took in the 11th grade. The ACT score was definitely part of it, but it’s not really where the scholarship came from.”

According to NationalMerit.org, “A variety of information is available for NMSC selectors to evaluate: the finalist’s academic record, information about the school’s curricula and grading system, PSAT/NMSQT Selection index score, the high school official’s written recommendation, information about the student’s activities and leadership and the finalist’s own essay.”

Roberts wrote his essay on his greatest influences.

“I wrote about my parents and their impact on my life,” he smiled.

He said that his parents are very excited about him going to Alabama and he grew up a fan, saying, “Roll Tide!”

Roberts is poised to have a great awards day if Fairview High School has one.

He explained, “I don’t know right now what my senior class standing is, but I got a senior superlative recognition which I believe is 10 students that are considered the top of the class of Fairview. Last year, I was in the Top 5 of the class as well, and I got the recognition for that at awards day. I’m not exactly sure yet for my senior year because we haven’t had an awards day or anything yet.”

Roberts is a member of the National Honor Society, student council, is class vice-president, is a member of the yearbook staff and plays soccer. He has attended Fairview since kindergarten.

“Fairview has been a big part of my life, and it’s a great community,” he said.

He played football for one year but concentrated on soccer for the past three years.

“We only played five games this year,” he said, “and we normally play a lot more than that.”

His final few months at Fairview were abruptly cut short due the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I think it was Friday, March 13. That was kind of the last time everybody was there. We had heard about it, but we didn’t really know we were going to be leaving and not coming back. It was disappointing to not be able to finish out senior season and our senior year. Especially with our soccer season canceled and having to do our work online. It really wasn’t the same as being there,” said Roberts. “Fortunately, we are going to be able to graduate on the football field and those kinds of things. I’m looking forward to that. I’m actually really excited about it being on the football field. I think it will be neat.”

Roberts hasn’t yet decided what major he will pursue in college, but he said he feels prepared.

“My favorite subjects in school have been English, really everything: English, history, math, science. I’ve had some good teachers for all those,” he smiled. “I don’t know if I would want to shout out just one person but really just the faculty of Fairview as a whole. It’s a great faculty and everybody I have come in contact with pretty much has helped me along the way, in their own way. It’s been a great experience, honestly, at Fairview.”

He added, “Shout out to Fairview High School. Shout out to all my friends and everybody that’s been a part of my life. Especially to my parents and the impact they have had on me and kind of pushing me to do the best I can.”

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