Cherry Creek Schools recently honored 20 seniors who earned a perfect score on the 2017 ACT or SAT. Seated, L to R: Isani Singh, Rachel Moes, Hannah Cussen, Daivi Patel, Ryan Olsen. Standing, L to R: Gloria Jung, Kylie Hunter, Hari Sowrirajan, Ansley Avis, Emily Powis, Jared Scott, Grace Lao, Christopher Lee, Aditya Kumar, Paul Nicknish, Siddhart Mane, Matthew Fox.
For Hari Sowrirajan, practice makes perfect.
In 2017, the Cherry Creek High School student earned a perfect score of 36 on the ACT test, then a perfect score of 1600 on the SAT, then a second perfect score on a second ACT test.
“In the end, there’s no substitute for doing the actual practice tests,” Sowrirajan said. “I did a ton of ACT prep over the summer.”
That included a test prep course through an outside organization and doing every practice test he could find, even though some were less than encouraging.
“I actually never got a perfect score during SAT practice,” Sowrirajan recalled. “At one point I was missing over 10 questions on the reading section.”
But Sowrirajan persevered and is one of 20 seniors in the Cherry Creek School District who earned a perfect score on the ACT or SAT in 2017. He is the only student who earned a perfect score on both exams. Earning a perfect score on either test, much less both, is truly remarkable. Each year, around 2 million students take the ACT and the SAT tests, and just a fraction of them – less than one-tenth of one percent – earn a perfect score. Congratulations to these outstanding scholars:
Perfect ACT score:
Perfect SAT score:
Among the 20 CCSD students who earned a perfect score, there seem to be 20 different ways to prepare for standardized college admissions tests. Cherokee Trail High School student Ryan Olsen didn’t take any kind of test prep course.
“My sister did have an ACT prep book and I think I took half a test, but other than that, I just did the practice ACT sections that we would do in classes in high school,” Olsen said.
Cherry Creek senior Hannah Cussen took a similar, low key approach.
“I had my book and I would look at the cover in the month leading up to it, but I never opened it until the week before,” Cussen said. When testing day arrived, she just stayed relaxed and let her natural test-taking abilities take over. “Standardized tests have always come pretty easy to me,” she said.
While their test prep approaches are unique, these 20 exemplary scholars have several things in common. For example, they are all very involved in school and community activities. Some play sports, others are involved in the arts. Nearly all are members of several school organizations, ranging from student government and DECA to math club and speech and debate.
In addition, they all have a passion for learning and are looking forward to continuing their educational pursuits at Ivy League schools and other top colleges across the country. Many are still waiting to hear on acceptances and scholarships before making a decision on where they will spend the next four years. But others, including Olsen, know exactly where they will be heading in the fall. Olsen, who is also a National Merit Semifinalist, will study actuarial science at the University of Nebraska, one of the nation’s 16 Centers of Actuarial Excellence.
Cussen, who is a talented musician as well as an outstanding scholar, will spend the summer traveling across the country, practicing up to 14 hours a day and competing as a member of the Blue Knights Drum and Bugle Corps. In the fall, she will likely attend Stanford University where she will study biology and music.
“I want to make money with bio and have fun with music,” Cussen said with a smile.
Sowrirajan plans to study material science and engineering at MIT, though he’s not sure what type of engineering he will specialize in. He shares Cussen’s love of music and also has an interest in business.
“I’m a STEM guy, I like math and science. But music is something I’m passionate about and business… I want to see how you take the theoretical STEM world to the real world,” Sowrirajan said.
The Cherry Creek School District honored this elite group of students and their parents at a luncheon on Feb. 6. Dr. Harry Bull, superintendent of Cherry Creek Schools, congratulated them on their many accomplishments and strongly encouraged them to savor their success and make time to relax and rejuvenate once in a while.
“My message to all of you is this: By virtue of your performance on these tests, you have established yourselves as probably the top one percent of students in this country,” Bull said. “What that means is you’re going to have these incredible opportunities that lie ahead. Pursue those heights, you’re prepared, you’ve performed exceptionally, but give yourselves permission to turn left when everyone else is turning right and go do something fun.”
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