Calculus not so scary for Gulfport students

By Trang Pham-Bui - bio | email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) -  "The F3.  Try it that way such that X equals 7," the teacher told her students.

The numbers sound so confusing. But the AP Calculus students at Gulfport High can make a complicated course seem simple.

"It's not as hard as it always seemed like on TV. And it's pretty easy once you break it down," said Gulfport High Senior Maddie Bowers.

The seniors are working hard these days, preparing for the state exams in May. After all, they have quite a reputation to uphold.

Take a look at these numbers from last year's AP Calculus test:

In all, 86 students across the state made the highest score. Fifteen of them came from Gulfport High. In fact, more than 93 percent of the Gulfport students passed the test.

And of the five African-American students in Mississippi who made the top score, two of them are from Gulfport.

"Very proud. Very proud of what they've done," said AP Calculus teacher Robin Thompson.

Thompson says there's no secret formula to her student's success.

"Try to be as prepared as I can be and as clear as I can in my explanation, so my students don't get confused and real flustered," said Thompson. "They're motivated and they're prepared."

"Drilling. Just practice, practice, practice. Homework every night," said Gulfport High Senior Will Whitfield.

"I may not get the highest score, but I'll pass.  And my objective is to get a high score," said Gulfport High Senior Jasmin Kirkwood.

"Obviously very nervous," said Maddie Bowers. "I want to live up to the expectations, but I don't think it's going to be much of a problem because they've done it in years past."

As a result of recent high AP scores, Gulfport High was selected as the 2006-2007 Siemens AP Math and Science School for Mississippi.  And Robin Thompson was chosen as the 2007-2008 Seimens Advanced Placement Math Teacher of the Year in Mississippi.

Gulfport High received another honor recently. The school was featured in the January issue of Business Week magazine as the GreatSchool's Parent's Choice winner for the state of Mississippi. It was based on positive reviews from people in the community. St. Stanislaus School in Bay St. Louis also won in the private school category.