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Press Release

North Dakota School Superintendent Kirsten Baesler on Wednesday praised two North Dakota high school students who scored a perfect 36 on their ACT college entrance exams.

Millicent Schwartz, who graduated this spring from Grand Forks Red River High School, and Seth Benson, who graduated from West Fargo Sheyenne, were the only two students among 7,282 North Dakota high school test takers who recorded the perfect composite test score. The students and their high schools were presented with awards.

Nationally, about two-tenths of 1 percent of students aced the test.

Benson is attending the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, where he begins a basic training program this week. He intends to study political science and economics.

"I wanted to serve my nation, and go through the experience of developing as a leader and as an officer," Benson said.

Schwartz is attending Cornell, an Ivy League school in Ithaca, N.Y., this fall to study mechanical engineering. She intends to pursue a minor in aerospace engineering, a goal she said was inspired by reading "How to Build a Time Machine," a book by theoretical physicist Paul Davies.

"It’s kind of like a sandbox," Schwartz said about the study of space. "I just want to play around in it."

Baesler lauded the students’ accomplishment. "These two talented young people have achieved a rare distinction," the superintendent said. "They, their parents, their teachers, and the entire state of North Dakota should be proud of what they have accomplished."

State law requires North Dakota high school juniors to take the ACT, which tests a student’s mastery of English, reading, mathematics, science and writing. Students are scored individually on the English, reading, mathematics and science subjects, and the composite score combines those four. Juniors may also opt to take the ACT WorkKeys, which is a career skills assessment.

North Dakota offers academic scholarship aid to prospective college students who have an ACT composite score of 24 or greater. The most recent North Dakota average ACT composite score was 20.3.

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