Fruita teen aces college test

KATE DUSENBURY scored a perfect 36 on the American College Testing program’s entrance exam. She was the only District 51 student, and one of only 22 graduating students statewide, to achieve a perfect score.

Kate Dusenbury has always followed the advice of her father when it comes to test taking.

Treat all tests as you would game shows, he said to her.

“The answer is always right there in front of you, and that helps,” said the 17-year-old Fruita Monument High School senior. “Anyway, I tried not to let the pressure bother me. You can always retake the ACT. It doesn’t matter.”

Maybe it’s that attitude that allowed Dusenbury to cruise to a perfect score of 36 on the American College
Testing program’s entrance exam, taken every year by high school juniors. Dusenbury is the only District 51 student out of 22 graduating students statewide who scored a perfect score on the test dreaded by most other high schoolers.

Those 22 students are being honored today by the Colorado State Board of Education and will be presented with a certificate of achievement at a ceremony in Denver.

“I was home alone when I received my scores in the mail,” Dusenbury said of when she learned of her accomplishment in May. “I was really excited. I was hoping for something in the 30s, but didn’t expect that.”

But Dusenbury’s accomplishment didn’t shock her teachers. When most seniors hit cruise control for their last year of school, said Shana Miller, Dusenbury’s advanced placement English teacher, Dusenbury is carrying a load of four advanced placement — or roughly collegiate-level — courses, taking some hefty science classes such as physics and is student-teaching lower-level science.

“It wouldn’t surprise me if Kate won a Nobel prize or made some world-changing discovery,” Miller said. “She sounds too good to be true, but she is the real deal.”

Dusenbury said she hopes to parlay her high score into acceptance into a small liberal arts college. She hasn’t decided on a school yet, she said, but she wants to go out-of-state to possibly study in a science-related field.

District 51 is no stranger to high-achieving students. Caleb Jordan, last year’s valedictorian at Grand Junction High School, scored 36 on his ACT in 2007, according to the Colorado Department of Education.

Dana Engelbert, with ACT, Inc., said of the 1.42 million tests administered each year, only .1 percent of students score a perfect score, and the national average score is 21.

“I guess my score means that I get a lot more college mail,” Dusenbury said. “But it also makes college a more attainable dream.”


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