Hoof Prints: SAHS senior named a National Merit semifinalist

Studying and good organization helped Stillwater Area High School senior Ace Oubaha become a National Merit Scholarship semifinalist. (Submitted photo)
Studying and good organization helped Stillwater Area High School senior Ace Oubaha become a National Merit Scholarship semifinalist. (Submitted photo)


“Being a good student means you set goals for yourself, and you achieve those goals,” Stillwater Area High School senior Ace Oubaha said. “Studying and having good organization habits will help you get there.”

On the night of Sept. 21, Oubaha was recognized at the school as a National Merit Scholarship semifinalist. Because of his success on the PSAT test, Oubaha has the opportunity to win up to $2,500 in scholarship money for college. He shared his secrets to success on doing well on the exams, as well as being a successful student overall.

“Honestly, the biggest (thing) you could do for yourself is get a good night’s sleep the entire week,” he said. “Don’t think you can stay up cramming all week and then sleep well the day before and expect to do well. That’s not how sleep works. Eat a good breakfast as well. These are the little thing that make a big difference in your performance.”

While it’s hard to predict what exactly might come up on the test, Oubaha suggests students take the time to prepare.

“I drilled through practice tests every night the week before. Practicing that specific test is a very good way to score well,” Oubaha said.

Ace’s take on education

Education can influence someone’s life; with the millennial generation, the love of learning has not caught on for everyone.

“I don’t think the way we see education has changed that dramatically,” Oubaha said. “The real issue is that we don’t have a view of education. We look at other countries like Japan and China, and education is revered. Teachers are revered over there. Students don’t value a good education and learning what could be useful for the rest of their lives, and so we have a culture where schooling is something that you’re forced to go into instead of this great opportunity you will never get again, which it is.”

Oubaha says students should seize opportunities that come their way.

“I have many good opportunities,” he said. “If I don’t do well, it is a problem because I have the ability to do so. Not performing to the best of my ability would be like letting myself down.”

Because Stillwater Area High School has become so large, Oubaha believes it can be difficult for students to get those opportunities and access resources.

“Students don’t see education as this wonderful opportunity because they have been pushed out of the system right now,” Oubaha said. “Teachers are so overwhelmed with the amount of students. Students feel alienated from the system and feel like what they are doing isn’t valuable.”

Oubaha also worries for the academic environment of the school, which he believes has developed into more of a competition between students due to the scarcity of jobs and limited spacing of colleges.

“It can become competitive due to the way school has been set up, especially when teachers curve their test to the top score,” Oubaha said. “The high school should be much more of a place where one feels comfortable learning and asking questions instead of worrying of not being at the same level as everyone else.”

The word on the street

Ace Oubaha’s sister, sophomore Sophie Oubaha, shares how she perceives her big brother.

“Ace is really a smart and driven individual who is willing and wanting to succeed,” Sophie said. “He’ll always try to do his best in class. Once you hit senior year, a lot of people stop caring as much. He still is trying to get those good grades so he can get accepted into the best college he can.”

Sophie acknowledged it could be difficult at times to see each other because of their conflicting schedules.

“We’re both pretty busy, so we don’t see each other often,” she said. “We both do a ton of after-school activities that overlap. When we do see each other, we argue like siblings do, but we generally get along pretty well. I get along with his friends pretty well, and I wouldn’t describe him as embarrassing.”

Even with limited time to interact, Sophie still holds dear the memories of Ace.

“I remember we were in the car driving back from my grandma’s house, which was about a five-hour drive,” she said. “Him and my dad were having the weirdest argument: if you could have the machine that could predict all the different variables in the universe, could you predict the future? They just argued about it for three hours. That’s really what Ace is about — he likes to think about things that maybe other people wouldn’t realize.”

Junior Maia Carter, who is in the Math League with Ace, sees Ace as not only a valuable team member but also a role model.

“Not only is he naturally brilliant, he’s hardworking and involved in almost all aspects of the school between, debate, Math League and Robotics,” Carter said. “With that amount of talent and zeal, one would think Ace would be egotistical, but he is far from that. He is super friendly and easy to engage in conversation. It makes him really easy to look up to.”

Mike Kaul, a history and psychology teacher, remembers when Ace was a student in his Advanced Placement U.S. History class.

“He is curious, inquisitive and always wants to seek greater understanding,” Kaul said. “He never put his hand down. I think when he finds something that stirs his passion and creativity, he is going to do something great.”

This piece was written by a student and provided by Hoof Prints, a collaboration between The Gazette and the Pony Express, Stillwater Area High School’s student newspaper.