Fairmont teen receives a perfect ACT test score

Fairmont High School student Kellen Rodriguez displays a letter from the ACT national office, congratulating him on his hard work.

Fairmont High School Junior Kellen Rodriguez recently received a letter in the mail. Though that may seem unremarkable, it is the sender and subject matter that will make the letter forever stand out as a defining moment in Rodriguez’s life.

Straight from the ACT national office, the letter congratulated him on his achievement of a perfect composite score of 36 on his ACT test.

The letter states that, on average, less than one-tenth of 1 percent of all test-takers earn the top score, easily setting up Rodriguez’s accomplishment as a rare and exciting moment. He also stands out on a local level, becoming the third Fairmont student in 18 years to achieve the perfect score, following students Michelle Malecha in 1999 and Caleb Larson in 2012.

Rodriguez said his first reaction to the news was one of disbelief.

“I was pretty surprised; I had to look twice,” he said. “It’s a long test and I knew from just studying for it that it would be hard to get a perfect score. I was just hoping to get a good score, I didn’t really think I would get a perfect score, so that was pretty surprising.”

When asked about his preparation for the test, Rodriguez says it was largely a case of knowing what he didn’t know.

“There was a lot of prep,” he said. “During the summer, I had to learn all the things you need to know for the ACT and a lot of it is an overview of everything you learn in high school. But there were some things that I didn’t know, and I really worked on that about a month before the test, and just got used to the timing and how they ask the questions.”

When he finished taking the test, Rodriguez didn’t have much insight into how he did, other than knowing he was exhausted.

“Right when I got done with it, I was worn out,” he said. “I just felt kind of stressed out and rushed.”

School counselor Scott Geerdes was available to share his thoughts on Rodriguez’s efforts.

“I would say that I have found Kellen to be a very respectful and hardworking young man who goes about his business,” he said, “and right now business is very good with his academics and school activities.”

Kellen’s parents, Rufus and Lynae Rodriguez, share that they also are proud of their son’s performance.

“We were stunned,” Lynae said. “Stunned and ecstatic, and I may have jumped up and down.”

She also noted their excitement over some of Kellen’s other academic feats, including a perfect math score and near perfect English score on his SAT exam.

“My parents have always encouraged me to work hard, and keep my opportunities open,” Kellen said. “I’ve also been lucky to have teachers all the way through that have challenged and encouraged me.”

Kellen states that while he is not sure what his academic future holds, he is honored to be among those who have accomplished the perfect score, stating that it feels “pretty cool.”

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