Two Edmond Public School students have followed in the footsteps of their older siblings earning perfect scores on the ACT college entrance exam. The ACT consists of tests in English, mathematics, reading, and science. Each test is scored on a scale of 1-36, and a student’s composite score is the average of the four test scores.
Santa Fe High School student William Lawrence, 16, and Memorial High School student Celina Zhao, 17, each scored a perfect 36 on the exam earlier this year, joining their older siblings Connor Lawrence and Karena Zhao who graduated in 2019 and 2017 respectively.
Remarkably, Zhao took the ACT only one time, just like her older sister.
“I had a goal to get a 36, but it was more for my own achievement and not as much as about matching my sister’s score,” said Celina.
“Very few students make a perfect score on the Act college entrance exam the first time they take it, but these gifted siblings did just that,” said Associate Superintendent Dr. Debbie Bendick.
Celina’s also gifted at AP tests and string music. An accomplished violinist, she’s played since age three and has won numerous awards. In many ways, however, she’s a normal high school student who enjoys school assemblies and her friends.
“I’ve enjoyed how much school spirit Edmond Memorial has and being able to meet all the
wonderful people that I’m close to now,” she said.
Celina has aspirations of attending an Ivy League school and going into medicine. She’ll know just who to go to for career advice, given that her older sister, a student at Yale, just completed the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT).
Meanwhile, it’s engineering that has captured the attention of Edmond Santa Fe student William Lawrence. Both of his parents are engineers, and it seems to be a natural career path for him since math comes easily. He took Algebra I in sixth grade, three years ahead of schedule – and trigonometry his freshman year in high school. Along with taking as much math as possible, he credits Advanced Placement (AP) classes for his success on the ACT.
“I think that AP U.S. History really helped me improve on my weakest subject, reading, because of all the documents and primary sources we read,” said Lawrence. “Also, AP Chemistry and AP Physics have prepared me for the science section. SFHS teacher Mrs. Blackwood has done a great job of teaching me both physics and chemistry.”
Lawrence first started to think that his most recent test could be “the one” when he was about halfway through, and realized that he was 99 percent sure of his answers.
“At that point, I started pushing myself to keep the same mindset for the rest of the test. After I finished, I thought back on the questions and realized that I was very confident about all of my answers. I was also very relieved that I had finally lived up to the high standard that my brother set,” he said.
Bendick says while several students in the district have achieved a perfect ACT score over the last several years, she is unaware of other pairs of siblings who hold the distinction.
“To have one set of siblings from our district achieve perfect scores is impressive, but to have two sets of siblings earn the distinction is very rare and speaks volumes both about the importance their families place on education as well as the students’ internal drive and commitment to reach this goal,” she said.
A student at Edmond North High School, Abhishek Chataut, 16, joins Zhao and Lawrence in achieving a perfect ACT score this school year.
“To have students from all three high schools achieve perfect ACT scores this year shows that each of our high schools boasts passionate educators, challenging college prep courses and exceptional activities, giving students every opportunity to achieve their goals,” Bendick concluded.