A passion for math and the appreciation of a challenge has helped a local student earn national recognition for his skills.
Bret Hendricks, 17, a member of the Thomas County Central High School Class of 2018, has been named a National AP Scholar.
“I wasn’t expecting to get it,” Hendricks says. “I was having high hopes for my scores, but I didn’t realize I would have 4 or above on every single AP exam I’ve ever taken.”
AP stands for Advanced Placement. In order to receive such recognition, according to the official College Board AP website, a student must have scored at least a 4 on all AP exams taken and a 4 or higher on eight or more AP exams. A score of 5 is the highest a student can achieve on an AP exam.
“Throughout my high school career I have made six 5s and two 4s on my AP exams,” Hendricks said. “I think it really shows how all my hard work has paid off. I spent countless hours studying and preparing for these exams.”
Courses he completed during his four years at TCCHS include AP Calculus AB, AP Calculus BC, AP Chemistry, AP Psychology, AP Statistics, AP U.S. Government, AP Environmental Science and AP Physics 1.
“I wanted to take AP courses in order to challenge myself,” the recent graduate says of his reason for becoming an AP student. “I had tried honors courses and wanted to step up to the next level.”
The 5 score he is most proud of is the one he earned for AP Chemistry.
“Most of the TCCHS students I spoke with who have taken it in the past said it is almost impossible to get a 5 on the exam,” Hendricks explains. “They said it was the hardest AP class in this school. I was going to take it anyway, but I wasn’t expecting a 5. It was very challenging, but I learned the most in that class.”
Teacher Laura Kornegay had Hendricks as a student in three AP courses: physics, environmental science and chemistry. She is very proud of his accomplishments.
“Bret enjoys the challenge of AP classes,” Kornegay says. “A gifted problem-solver, Bret easily takes simple ideas and applies them to more complex situations. These skills have allowed him to be successful in his AP classes.”
His favorite AP class was AP Calculus.
“Math is my passion,” Hendricks enthuses. “It just makes sense, and there is always one right answer. I like how calculus kept building on previous topics we learned and everything we learned we used throughout the year.”
TCCHS instructor Darrin Minns taught Hendricks AP Statistics.
“Bret was a great student, very inquisitive and motivated,” Minns said. “Bret is one of the brightest minds to pass through TCCHS, so I'm not surprised at all that he has garnered this recognition.”
Taking AP courses has positively impacted Hendricks, too.
“I definitely learned to think more creatively and outside the box,” he said. “None of the classes required a straightforward answer. You had to understand the topics to find the answer, not just remember a fact.”
Hendricks thanks all of his AP teachers for their dedication to their subject(s).
“They knew what they were talking about and they definitely made sure I understood what they were teaching,” he said.
Outside of AP classes and other courses, Hendricks was involved in a variety of school clubs and organizations. These included band, environmental ambassadors, math competition club, Science Olympiad, Quiz bowl, Envirothon, Future Business Leaders of America and National Honor Society.
Hendricks will attend Georgia State University this fall and plans to eventually transfer to Georgia Tech. He intends to pursue a career in a math-centric field but is undecided on a specific job. When asked where he sees himself in 10 years, Hendricks doesn’t have everything planned out but knows he wants to be making a difference.
“In 10 years I definitely want to be contributing to a greater cause or bettering society with my math skills, for example, by working for NASA,” Hendricks shares.
Hendricks admits he’s always tested well but also believes achieving a 5 on an AP exam is possible with hard work. He encourages other students to give AP courses a chance and has some advice on how to start – or restart.
“Start off with a small number – don’t take five in the first year – and try to take AP courses in subjects you’re interested in so your first experience is not overwhelming or boring to you,” he said. “If you have taken an AP course in the past but didn’t enjoy it, don’t give up. Try another one in a subject you really like.”
TCCHS is a school that places an emphasis on growing its AP program and course offerings. For example, this year it has added AP Human Geography.
“I think TCCHS offers a great variety of courses,” Hendricks said. “There’s definitely something for everyone.”