Junior beats the ACT: perfect score highlights genius student
May 13, 2011 • Olivia Porath, Staff Writer
Filed under Student Highlight
The number 36 has always been a rare, untouchable figure for the ACT. Few students have been honored to reach the mark of a perfect score. Howell High School is pleased to announce such a student, Claire Kwan, as the only junior who received a 36 composite score on the 2011 ACT.
“I was surprised and happy about it [ACT score],” says Kwan. “Everybody kind of made a big deal about it.”
Ms. Deb Solowczuk, ACT Coordinator and HHS Freshman Campus counselor, states that Kwan’s score of 36 is indeed a big deal. It’s more common for some students to receive a 36 in a certain area of the ACT, such as English or Science, but not for the total score.
“It’s huge. Usually the 36 composite scores will open up a lot of doors for colleges,” Ms. Solowczuk says.
Kwan knew the significance of the ACT, so she prepared for the exam well before March 1, the starting day of all HHS ACT testing. And since the ACT was a three day process, she made sure to study hard.
“I took some practice tests and we did some stuff in English [class],” she says. “I didn’t take the whole thing, though. I just did a couple sections.”
Kwan took the whole version of the ACT before it was required by the state of Michigan. Kwan completed the ACT in Fowlerville during the month of February, which led to her initial score of 36. When it came time for all juniors in Howell High School to take the ACT, Kwan’s total composite number fell to a 35. Her lesser mark was still highly notable, and there were no worries on it affecting her image negatively because her top score of 36 will be the official grade recorded for the ACT.
Kwan grew up as an intelligent child from the start. Originally born in Taiwan, Kwan moved to the United States at age two and left the state of California at the end of fifth grade. By the time she entered sixth grade, Kwan was settled in the state of Michigan and her student career began to excel.
“I’ve always gotten A’s mostly,” she admits shyly.
The achievements continue to multiply now that Kwan is in high school. Besides the academic alliances with Quiz Bowl and Student Council, Kwan takes part in HHS track, HHS girls swim team, and Women’s Chorale. She is also very musical with the piano.
“I started playing [piano] when I was five,” Kwan says. However, her vocal days are soon coming to an end. “This is my first and last year in choir.
Besides pursuing extracurricular activities, she has enrolled in many advanced classes, including AP Physics B, AP Calculus, AP Government, and Advanced American Literature. One of the most challenging classes Kwan currently attends is AP Physics, taught by Mr. Paul Webster.
“AP Physics B is one of the toughest classes offered at Howell High School,” says Mr. Webster. “It covers approximately a year and a half of second or third year college Physics. Claire is doing very well in the class.”
Of course, AP Physics B will be a critical component in Kwan’s future education. Since AP Physics B deals with the science of energy, motion, and other mechanical principals, the class will be especially beneficial to her future possibilities in healthcare or mechanics.
“I like math and science. I’m not sure yet, but I think I either want to go into some type of engineering or into the medical field.”
Kwan’s family members are also a brainy bunch. She has two younger sisters: one in eighth grade and the youngest in third grade, along with two older step-brothers. Her family’s Asian culture still remains intact despite moving to the United States, since they often speak Chinese Mandarin around the house. Blended in with the other clever relatives, Kwan remains to think indifferently about her family’s reaction to her newfound accomplishment.
“I guess they were happy about it,” she shrugs.
Kwan may seem nonchalant sometimes, but she’s surely grateful for the opportunities her ACT score has provided. With basically free reign to attend any college, Kwan has so far selected four schools that have gained her interest: University of Michigan, Northwestern Michigan, Stanford University, and University of California, Los Angeles.
“I’m hoping to get scholarships but I haven’t done any applications, so I don’t know yet,” she says.
Mr. Webster can confirm her potentially victorious future without question.
“I think Claire will be successful in whatever she decides to pursue,” he says. “She works hard and is extremely bright.”