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July 31, 2013

Roseville student earns top score on ACT

By Sara Kandel
C & G Staff Writer

ROSEVILLE — Roseville High School student Jonah Oleksiak, 17, achieved a top composite score of 36 on the ACT.

Although the number of students who achieve a perfect score varies from year-to-year — in 2012 only 781 out of the 1.66 million students who took the test achieved a top score — it is not a commonplace accomplishment and ACT officials estimate that less than a tenth of 1 percent of students who take the ACT will achieve a top score.

“You might get one or two perfect scores in the entire county in a given year, but it is very rare,” said Peter Hedemark, principal at Roseville High School. “I think it is an amazing testimony to how hard he has worked, how hard his parents have worked to give him the right opportunities and how hard his teachers have worked to prepare him for the future.”

Oleksiak’s mother, Marie Oleksiak, said her son has always been a hard-worker.

“I think it was one of those things that was years in the making,” she said. “Jonah has always studied regularly. I’m really proud of him.”

As for Oleksiak, he didn’t doubt he’d do well, but the perfect score did come as a surprise.

“To be honest, I always knew I was a smart kid, but I never thought I’d get a 36,” Jonah said.

He added that the test was challenging, but he felt prepared for it.

“I did think it was challenging — there were some questions where I had to really think about what the answer was, but with a test like the ACT, you don’t have time to second guess yourself too much — you have to go with your initial gut instinct, and that’s what I did.”

In a letter recognizing his achievement, ACT CEO Jon Whitmore said, “While test scores are just one of the many criteria that most colleges consider when making admission decisions, your exceptional ACT composite score should prove helpful as you pursue your education and career goals.”

Colleges often look at ACT scores to determine a student’s preparedness for the academic rigors that lie ahead.

Add to his perfect score Oleksiak’s active membership in the National Ocean Sciences Bowl and Science Olympiad, where he and his teammates placed in state-level competitions, and he has the supporting goods for one stellar college application.

It’s not all books for Oleksiak, though; he’s just as interested in the arts as he is in sciences, and as for right now, he’s hoping to pursue a career in the performance arts.

“I used to want to be an aerospace engineer,” Oleksiak said. “I’m looking at studying that quite a bit in college, but I don’t think I want to pursue a career in science anymore. I’m thinking about becoming an actor.”

Oleksiak has been involved in drama club since middle school and has landed major roles in the district’s performances of “Beauty and the Beast,” “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” “Bye, Bye Birdie” and “A Christmas Carol.”