“God and family come first while academics take the next spot,” he said.
But that hasn’t stopped the rising senior at Cherokee High School from earning perfect scores on six Advanced Placement exams — Human Geography, Statistics, World History, United States History, Psychology and Environmental Science — throughout his high school career.
Advanced Placement, or AP, exams are overseen by the College Board, the same organization that administers the SAT.
The exams, taken by high school students during the first two full weeks of May each year and consist of multiple choice and free response questions, are graded on a 5-point scale, with a score of 3 or higher on an exam making a student eligible to receive college credit at most colleges and universities.
Students receive their scores in the mail around the third week in July, but also have the option to find out their scores earlier by hearing them over the phone for an $8 fee.
Ricketts, the son of Holly and Greg Ricketts of Canton, was excited after finding out the scores of his three exams this year but admits that he was apprehensive before finding out his scores.
“I was definitely nervous when I called to get my scores,” Ricketts said, “but when I heard them all, a feeling of relief washed over me. The hours of work every week all year was worth that feeling of achievement.”
According to Dan Snipes, an Etowah High School assistant principal who was the Social Studies Department chair at Cherokee High School last year and taught Ricketts for both AP Human Geography and AP Psychology, Ricketts was the lone student at Cherokee to score a 5 and was part of the 89 percent of his AP Human Geography class to pass the exam in 2010 and was one of 12 students to score a 5 on the AP Psychology exam this past May, which had a 91 percent pass rate at Cherokee.
“Jebb is a very gifted learner who has a natural gift in academics and one of the strongest work ethics I’ve ever known,” Snipes said. “Students like Jebb make us as teachers better teachers.”
Ricketts was also one of two students at Cherokee to earn a 5 on the AP U.S. History exam this year, said AP United States History teacher Heather Smith.
“Jebb was a great deal of fun to have in AP U.S. History,” Smith said. “He enjoys history and soaked up the information fairly easily because of his passion for it. I always knew that he would have a clever and ready response to my questions in class.”
Ricketts explained that each AP course had its pros and cons, but out of the six he has taken so far, his favorite was AP Statistics in his sophomore year.
“It was the hardest class and the one I did the worst in,” he said. “But the challenge of learning the material and the feeling of ‘Yes, I finally get it’ was worth the work.”
In addition to his academic achievements, Ricketts also participated in a myriad other activities over the past three years, including student government, Beta club, Gamma club and Boy Scouts of America, as well as two years of cross country and three years of swimming.
He also added that while these extracurricular activities are important to him, anything that doesn’t revolve around his family and his faith won’t supersede his education.
“I will always do my homework before sports or clubs,” Ricketts said. “But I love hanging out with my friends and I try to make it to events and parties when my schedule allows it.”
For his final year in high school, Ricketts is not planning on slowing down; his senior year schedule so far consists of AP Calculus AB, AP Microeconomics, AP U.S. Government, and honors Physics.
Ricketts said that he is still trying to shape out the rest of his schedule, but hopes to add either AP Macroeconomics or AP Music Theory to his course load next year as well.
Out of these classes, he said that calculus is going to take the most effort.
“I’ve done relatively well in my math classes,” Ricketts said. “But calculus will take more than practicing a few problems every day.”
Still, Ricketts — just like almost every other high school senior in Cherokee County — has to complete a Senior Project, which “acts as a capstone event during the senior year that brings together academic as well as career exploration endeavors into a year-long research assignment,” according to the Cherokee County School District’s Course Selection Guide.
For his project — which has to include writing a research paper, creating a tangible work product, finding a facilitator to assist him with the product, putting together a portfolio and ultimately giving a oral presentation — Ricketts is planning his project around weight loss and exercise.
“I lost 30 pound back in the eighth grade,” he said. “I hope to start a fitness class to help others do the same.”
After high school, Ricketts aspires to attend Georgia Tech and major in Industrial Engineering.
“My father owns Cherokee Closeouts and his business has sparked my interests in these subjects,” he said.
If he were to be accepted into Georgia Tech today, Ricketts would already have 13 college credits due to his success on AP exams; that number could climb to 30 credits by the end of his senior year in high school — enough for him to be considered a college sophomore before stepping foot on campus.
“Those AP classes, while painful at times, were completely worth the effort,” Ricketts said. “I am thankful for the opportunity to take them.”