Parker Kuzma, pictured above in the office of Marysville High School, is a soon-to-be graduate of the school. He has achieved great success in his school career, complete with a pair of 36 scores on ACT tests.
(Journal-Tribune photo by Kristi Fish)
Parker Kuzma, a student at Marysville High School, will graduate this month and head to Ohio State University in the fall, double majoring in physics and astrophysics.
To get into these prestigious programs Kuzma needed to have a well-rounded application and he did – complete with a pair 36 scores on the ACT.
The ACT, like the SAT, is a standardized test taken by high school students across the country each year and 36 is the highest possible score. According to the 2017 ACT National Profile Report, only 0.136 percent of all 2,030,038 students tested received a 36, making this a rare feat.
“The first time I got the score I looked at it at work and I wasn’t supposed to be on my phone,” Kuzma said. “I didn’t really believe it at first and I didn’t tell a bunch of people because I didn’t want it be what I became known for.”
Despite the first perfect score, he needed to take the test again for the writing section.
Kuzma might have been able to fly under the radar after the first 36, but when he earned a second 36, the story couldn’t be stopped.
“When I checked the score for the last one, I thought I had clicked on the old score because it had the exact same score break down,” he said. “I kind of just laughed when I saw it because what are the odds?”
How did he get such a high score? Kuzma credits other parts of his life.
“You shouldn’t stress and wear yourself to the bone,” he said. “It’s more important in academics to take time to do well and you’ll be more motivated.”
As for advice for other students taking the test, Kuzma didn’t do anything different – in fact, he claimed he really didn’t do anything to prepare.
Kuzma said he took the ACT for the first time when he was a sophomore. He said he took the test “cold turkey” and remembered what was on it.
“Going in the second time, I wasn’t so confident, but I knew I had a 32 from before and was hoping to get a little higher,” Kuzma said “And coming out I felt like there wasn’t anything I didn’t know. The third time I didn’t really care, I just needed the writing.”
Kuzma recommended students trust their gut and learn to not second-guess themselves during the exam. He said remaining stress free is important to keeping up with the demands in his life and he uses outlets to stay motivated.
“I use music as an outlet,” he said. “I’m in show choir which has taught me to lose gracefully and win humbly. Last spring we won at the national competition in Atlanta, we’re pretty good.”
Principal Thomas Cochran wanted it known that Parker’s long list of extracurriculars is not always stress-free either.
“I think he’s underselling himself, show choir is a big commitment and everyone expects us to do well and that pressure is always there,” Cochran said. “I just want to commend Parker being able to balance all the things in his life – work, academia, show choir, extracurriculars… he doesn’t let them slip. He’s always here participating.”
Participation is a big part of Kuzma’s school career; he’s been in show choir, musicals, National Honor Society, a cappella choir, student council and mathletes, just to name a few.
With everything he manages to fit into his schedule – and on his college applications – it’s no wonder he expects big things from himself.
“My endgame would be to work some place like NASA or SpaceX in research,” Kuzma said. “I want to look at dark matter and what we don’t know, but before that I want to work at a university.”
Kuzma and his lofty goals provide a good model for other students.
“We like to have exemplars come back because I think high school kids believe the jobs are in silos like doctors, nurses and teachers, but inside those silos there are hundreds of options,” Cochran said. “I think that Parker will end up in a career in his field that he loves, but maybe not one he knew about before this and I think he’ll be an excellent spokesman.”
As for Kuzma, he’s looking forward to his future and believes that, with the help of those around him, he has been well prepared for college. He credited Steve Scherer, his government teacher, for keeping in touch and helping him prepare for college. Additionally, Kuzma’s mother earned his praise.
“She knows all there is to know about the college process and her unwavering support was important,” he said. “She’s a teacher and she was ecstatic when she found out my score.”
Kuzma is more than just a student who scored 36 on the ACT twice, but that doesn’t mean his accomplishment should be forgotten.
“In short, we’re very, very proud of him,” Cochran said. “He’s earned every accolade, scholarship and accomplishment he’s got coming.”
...For the full story, select an option below.