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ACT Perfect Scorers

Eleven of the 22 Nebraska seniors who earned perfect ACT college entrance exam scores were honored by Gov. Pete Ricketts on Monday at the state Capitol.

An elite group of Nebraska high school seniors will use skills that helped them attain perfect ACT scores to reach career goals that include everything from creating prosthetic limbs and joining the Global Health Organizations to becoming a hedge fund manager. 

Monday morning, 11 of the 22 seniors who scored a perfect 36 on the college-entrance exam donned suits and dresses to be recognized by Gov. Pete Ricketts and Nebraska Education Commissioner Matt Blomstedt.

More than 2 million high school students take the ACT, including 22,300 Nebraska juniors who took the test last year. Just one-tenth of 1 percent of those who take the test nationally achieve a perfect score.

In 2017, Nebraska began giving the ACT to all high school juniors to gauge school performance in reading, English, math and science. This year, the state is among 13 states to pay for the ACT for all high school juniors.

The average composite score statewide in 2017 was 21.4. Less than half the students who took the ACT last year met all four benchmarks that predict success in college courses.

Of the 22 Nebraska seniors this year who earned perfect scores, eight were from Lincoln. They are:  Jesse Lin and Emma Jewell from Lincoln East High School; Ruby Hoffman and Cole Shank from Lincoln High; Aaron Haake and Jae Hyun Lim from Lincoln Southwest; Gregory Hubbard from Lincoln Northeast and Darin Schlautman from Pius X.

Other perfect scorers are: Lauren Franzen, Elkhorn; Kaitlyn Ryan and Jacob Mann from Gretna; Calla Sullivan from Norris; John Brockmeier from Kearney; Vishnu Menon and Daniel Fu from Millard North; Victoria Lei from Brownell-Talbot; Bennett Wright from Elkhorn South; Joseph Hennessey and Gabriel Drew from Creighton Prep; Dawson Beutler and Jonah Turner from Millard West; and Galdino Guzman Navarro, from South Sioux City.

Ricketts congratulated the students for their hard work and encouraged them to settle in Nebraska — and change the world from here — once they earn their degrees.

At least one student, Beutler of Millard West, gave him some hope. He said after studying mechanical engineering at Caltech he hopes to be a business owner in Nebraska.

Of the 11 who came to the state Capitol to be recognized, four will start off in their home state at the University of Nebraska.

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Drew of Creighton Prep plans to study information security and computer science at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, and eventually wants to create video games.

Haake of Southwest will study mechanical engineering at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and has an interest in making prosthetic limbs one day.

Mann of Gretna and Menon of Millard North both will attend the Jeffrey S. Raikes School of Computer Management at UNL to study computer science.

Hennessey of Creighton Prep will study biomedical science at Marquette University in Wisconsin but hopes to return to Nebraska to attend the University of Nebraska Medical Center.

The others are going to prestigious schools around the United States, including Grinnell College, the University of North Texas, Harvard, Yale, Georgetown and Caltech.

Some have specific post-college plans; others will figure it out in the next four years, including Turner of Millard West, who said he plans to study economics at the North Texas “and spend a lot of time in the career counselor’s office.”

Reach the writer at 402-473-7226 or

On Twitter @LJSreist.


Education reporter

Margaret Reist is a Lincoln native, the mom of three high school graduates now navigating college and an education junkie who covers students, teachers and policymakers inside and outside the K-12 classroom.

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