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Fairmont student earns perfect score

July 5, 2012
Kylie Saari , Fairmont Sentinel

FAIRMONT - Caleb Larson has accomplished what very few students have.

He earned a perfect score on the ACT test, a college readiness test commonly taken by high school juniors.

This feat is so rare, in fact, that only one student each decade manages it at his school - Fairmont High School - and only one tenth of 1 percent of students nationally succeed in earning the 36-point score.

Article Photos

Caleb Larson

Of the 1.6 million students who took the test in 2011, the last year data is available, only 704 earned a perfect score.

Larson, who will be a senior next school year, takes most of his classes through post secondary enrollment options at Minnesota West, where he focuses his studies in computer science and computer engineering.

Larson's dad, Doug, said he knew Caleb had the potential to ace the test.

"He just consumes knowledge," he said. "I really attribute that to (Caleb's mom) Michelle reading to them. Caleb was even read to in the womb. I encourage anyone I talk to to read to their kids, because it is evident."

Larson himself wasn't overly surprised with his success because it wasn't the first time he took the test.

In order to be accepted into his calculus class last year, he needed an ACT score. He earned a score of 35 last year, and only took the portion of the test necessary to get into the class.

To use his score for college entrance, he needed to complete the entire test, including the math, English, reading and science sections.

Typically students take the test only once, but according to Fairmont High School guidance counselor Scott Geerdes, students can take the test as often as they want to pay the fee. They can then choose their highest score to submit to colleges.

Geerdes said Minnesota has the highest composite scores on the ACT than any other state in the nation. In 2011, only 28 students in the state earned a perfect score.

"I have been a guidance counselor for 16 years," he said, "and I am fortunate to have seen two kids earn a perfect score."

The most recent was Michelle Malecha, 2000 graduate of Fairmont.

"Caleb, without a doubt, is in some very rare air academically," Geerdes said.

Larson said school has always just been easy for him; he just needs to listen in class and the information stays with him.

"There are a couple of classes I have to study for," he conceded.

He earned a 2130 on SAT, which he says is equivalent to a 32 on the ACT.

His scores say a lot of about him, says Geerdes.

"It speaks well to Caleb's inquisitiveness and his study habits," he said.

Caleb's interest in computing doesn't just stop at school.

He has built two desktop computers, something he says allows him to get top quality parts for less than it would cost to have someone built it for him.

He is using the computer for what most boys his age do - gaming - but has plans for how to tweak it when he starts using it for programming activities in and after college.



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