DANVILLE - Tossing a football in the air while waiting for class to begin, Danville High School student Ross Silotto Jr. doesn't look like a person with a talent for crunching numbers.
So how does he explain beating out other top high school students in the state for the highest score on an accounting exam and a $10,000 scholarship?
"I don't like math, but I like money," he said.
About two weeks ago, Silotto proved that he already has a good understanding of basic business principles that may some day give him the opportunity to run his own business.
By invitation, Danville High School accounting teacher Dan Hile took three of his top accounting students to Bradley University to compete against other top accounting and business students across the state in an exam given by Bradley's Foster College of Business Administration.
Silotto registered the highest score of the approximately 75 students who took the exam.
"It was tough. I was surprised I won," Silotto said. He said he didn't expect to win the whole thing, especially after seeing the other students in the exam classroom on the Peoria campus.
"Some of the kids looked pretty smart," Silotto said.
Silotto couldn't explain exactly why they appeared as if they knew so much more, but Hile said Silotto sells himself short.
"I knew he would do well," Hile said. He added that Silotto enrolled as a sophomore in a business class normally taken by juniors and seniors and did very well.
"Ross is a good student. He has good retention skills, and he remembers what he learns," Hile said.
The exam consisted of about 75 accounting and business questions, and students had an hour to complete it. University officials recognized the ten best scorers, and the top three were awarded $10,000 scholarships to Bradley.
Hile said it feels good to have one of his students take home the highest score in the competition. He said many Danville High students go on to do successful things in college and beyond, but it's nice to have a student recognized while still in school.
"It tells other students: This is what happens if you work hard," he said.
Silotto said his performance on the exam can be credited to the accounting and business classes he's taken at Danville High.
There were only 16 students in the introduction to accounting class a few years ago when Hile took over the program. Next year, however, just under 70 students will be taking the introductory course, an advanced accounting class and a college transfer class that Hile will teach for dual credit through Danville Area Community College.
Hile said he is pleased to see more students taking the courses, and he believes the program will only continue to grow stronger. And no matter if Silotto accepts his $10,000 scholarship to Bradley University, Hile definitely plans to continue taking a few of his top students to the annual competition as long as the invitation is there.
"It gives our students a chance to meet other top students from across the state and realize that there are other opportunities out there," Hile said.
With one more year at Danville High left, Silotto hasn't decided where he'll attend college. Hile said Silotto has good test scores and good grades, so he's keeping his options open.
But Bradley is definitely in the mix thanks to the scholarship and to the reputation of Bradley's business school. Silotto is all about business.
"I want to major in business administration," Silotto said. His ultimate goal is to own his own business, maybe even a restaurant.
"I've taken everything with the word business in front of it," he said.
You can reach Tracy Moss at (217) 443-8946 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.