There are few differences between Claire Crane and George Brown.
She’s better at subjective issues, while he’s slightly ahead in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math.
“Just barely,” Brown said.
The two Decatur High School juniors, who became friends while sixth-grade students at Oak Park, have posted ACT scores among some of the highest in the school’s history.
Brown, who wants to be a computer scientist, scored 35, while Crane, who wants to be a neuroscientist, posted a 34. A perfect score is 36.
The average ACT score for Alabama students statewide is 19.1, while the national average is 21.
“Both of these kids will be able to write their ticket,” Principal Travis Schrimsher said, referring to their choices for college.
While this may be true, the two are not leaving anything to chance. Both said their goal when they take the test again in April is a perfect score.
Brown, who wants to attend the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said the average median ACT composite score for freshmen there is 35.
“As you can see, I’m just average,” he said.
His next choices are Georgia Tech and Stanford.
Crane has her eyes on Columbia University, Washington and Lee, or the University of Alabama at Birmingham. She said only about 12 percent of freshmen who apply for Columbia get accepted.
“I’m OK, but I’m not happy with the 34,” Crane said.
Her lowest composite score was 31 in math. “I’m horrible in geometry, but I’m going to study hard for the April test,” Crane said.
Brown said his issue was with reading, where he had a 34 composite “because my rhetorical skills need some work.”
Crane, who is an International Baccalaureate student, and Brown, who is on the AP diploma tract, are in the statewide Youth Leadership Development Program, but they do not have any classes together at Decatur High.
They said their friendly academic competition started when, because of their standardized test scores, they skipped sixth-grade math and took an advanced class with seventh-graders. As eighth-grade students, the two were among four students bused to Decatur High to take geometry.
Since becoming a freshman at Decatur, Brown has been ranked first in his class and Crane second.
“It’s always very close,” Brown said.
“They are both dynamic students,” Schrimsher said.
The two, both 16 and straight-A students, achieved their academic success while being involved with some of the school’s most demanding extracurricular activities.
Brown is captain of the cross-country team, and participates in the engineering program and chorus. Crane is chief executive officer of the Decatur and Austin Robotics Coalition and participates in drama.
Both said they are able to be involved students and maintain their academic standings because of the friends they choose.
“My friends I hang out with share a common academic vision with me,” Crane said.
Brown added: “I expect a lot of myself and the people who hang around me.”
The only time there’s any significant disagreement between Brown and Crane is when they talk politics, but it’s mainly friendly disagreements.
Crane said Brown drags her into political discussions when he makes ludicrous remarks. When he made the statement about abolishing the welfare system, she spoke up, only to agitate him.
“I really don’t care that much about politics,” Crane said.
Brown, a self-described libertarian, said their political discussions are rational.
“We talk politics with open minds,” he said. “She’s got me to change my positions on a couple of things.”
For as much as Brown and Crane are alike, they have their differences, which is why they plan to travel different professional tracks.
Brown said he’s always been fascinated with computers and their capacity to be programmed to achieve certain tasks.
Crane said she always has been intrigued with the brain and wants to figure out what makes people like Brown tick.
“I’ve always wanted to know, like when we’re happy, what’s going on in the brain to make this happen,” she said.
Crane said she selected Washington and Lee as her second choice because the college offers neuroscience as a major.
Brown said MIT is his choice because “it’s the best place to be for tech education.”