Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Memorial High Students Ace Recent ACT Exams

Left to right: William “Ryan” Caesar and Pierce Nguyen
Two students at Memorial High School, a rising senior and rising junior, have both earned perfect scores on the ACT college assessment exam taken earlier this year.

The students – William “Ryan” Caesar and Pierce Nguyen – were notified this spring that they earned a composite score of 36, the highest possible. The ACT is a well-known, popular college assessment and readiness exam. It tests students in English, mathematics, reading and science, and it also provides an optional writing test.

Top scores of 36 on the ACT remain quite rare. Among high school graduates nationwide in 2015, for example, only 1,598 of more than 1.92 million total tested students earned a score of 36. ACT officials contend such scores are incredible readiness measures for college and university. They often generate strong academic and scholarship offers for recognized students, too.

“We are so proud of these two young men and their outstanding accomplishments,” said Memorial High Principal Lisa Weir. “Historically, the average ACT score for Memorial students is 26, so for these two to earn 36 is an amazing feat!”

Both Caesar and Nguyen attended Spring Branch ISD schools, have highly supportive families, and strong academic, personal and related goals.

“This was a test run for me,” a surprised Nguyen said of his 36. “As a testing sophomore, I was planning to take the ACT, and then take it again as a junior.” He learned about his score while walking to lunch at Memorial and checking his email. “I said, ‘That is impossible,’ and then told my friend and then texted a screen shot.”

His only preparation was taking a practice test on his own. Nguyen did not think at first that a perfect score was a huge deal. “Getting a grade or score does not mean that much to me, but people are still talking about it,” he said in May.

The ACT spring administration was also a first run for Caesar, who took it as a junior. “The SAT is really my test. I decided to take the ACT to get to know what it was. Looking back, it may have helped that I was not super stressed about it,” he said, reflecting.

Caesar learned about his score online, too. He told his “very proud” parents about it right away and then shared with a close friend, but tried to keep the good news quiet. That lasted almost a week, he said, but “I don’t worry about it. That’s not the most important part of me.”

Both Caesar and Nguyen attended Spring Branch ISD secondary schools, have highly supportive families, and possess strong academic, personal and related goals.

In addition to Memorial High, Caesar attended Memorial Middle School. He moved to Houston with his family from Atlanta at the end of grade school.  At Memorial High, he’s varsity center on the basketball team, ranks as a co-valedictorian candidate, was named a Top 20 junior, and is an Advanced Placement student across fields ranging from physics to English.

He has three sisters, including one at Memorial High and two who attend Bunker Hill Elementary.

This summer, he will intern with Texas Sen. Sylvia Garcia, District 6, a Democrat who was elected to the open Houston seat in 2013. Caesar credits his success so far to his parents, especially his “amazing” dad, William “Bill” Caesar, who is chief executive officer with WCA Waste Corp. and a former consultant and special assistant to the U.S. ambassador to Russia.

“My dad was a positive role model for me,” Caesar said. “He really inspired me to achieve indirectly and directly, and his life for me is an example of how hard work leads to success.”

Caesar has universities picked out already. His top two picks include the University of Pennsylvania, a big Ivy League campus in Philadelphia, and Britain’s Oxford University, which ranks as the world’s best often across many fields of study.

Caesar even has his major picked out should he head across the Atlantic Ocean. Oxford selects a limited number of students for a degree in philosophy, politics and economics (PPE). Graduates include Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron. Caesar would love to serve in politics one day, maybe as a U.S. senator.

Pierce Nguyen, meanwhile, is considering West Coast schools like Stanford University or the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) for engineering or medical studies. “Math and science are my strong suits,” he says.

Nguyen is a Rummel Creek Elementary and Memorial Middle schools grad. He plays both viola and violin in the orchestra, and also likes playing the piano. He is an amateur ping pong player and enthusiast.

He credits his parents, Chad and Krystal Nguyen, with steering his somewhat lackluster interest in school achievement back on track. “There was a point where I didn’t really care about my grades all that much. My parents sat me down and said, ‘It is about the grades, too,’” he recalls.

Today, Nguyen is an A student. It’s a good match for a perfect ACT.


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