Wednesday, September 11, 2013
Frisco teen achieves city’s first perfect ACT score
On average, only 1 in 4,000 students scores a 36.
FRISCO The number 36 can mean a lot of things, such as the number of inches in a yard or the atomic number of krypton.
For Gianna Mason, a senior at Centennial High School, 36 means perfection – and probably some scholarship money.
Mason was recognized Monday night by the Frisco ISD School Board for becoming the first known student in the city to achieve a perfect 36 on his or her ACT.
Since 2000, only 1 of every 4,000 students who took the ACT earned a perfect score, according to data from actstudent.org. Mason said she was shocked to be included in that category.
“I saw it on the internet and asked my dad, ‘Do you know what the highest score for the ACT is,’” she said. “He said, ‘I think it’s a 36.’ I was speechless. I didn’t believe it. I thought it was a mistake.
Even more incredible, Mason said it was her first time to take the test, and she took only one practice exam to study beforehand. Other than that, she reviewed tests and other school assignments to give her a refresher for what she expected to be on the exam.
Gianna’s mother, Annabelle Mason, said the family didn’t have expectations entering the test and told her not to worry about it too much.
“I told her not to stress about it because it’s her first time, and she could always take it again,” Annabelle said.
Since the test score came back, Gianna said she has seen an influx in mail from universities across the nation reaching out to her, even offering to waive the normally required application fees and essays.
Despite the new attention, Gianna said she still plans to attend Rice, which she refers to as her “dream school.” If she gets accepted, she already knows what she wants to focus on.
“I’m hoping to study something in biology or pathology,” she said. “I like being in a lab and looking at things to figure out how they work. I think diseases are pretty cool just because of how small they are and how big of a toll they can take on people.”
Gianna, who describes herself as the kid who sits at the back of the classroom and tends to keep to herself, said she hopes going to a school as prestigious as Rice will help her land a better career in the future, noting the strong science curriculum offered.
Gianna’s father, Jim Mason, said Gianna doesn’t take credit for her successes, and the score helps validate the hard work she has put in over the years.
“Centennial is a really tough school, and there is a lot of competition,” he said. “This score proves to her as much as anybody else that it’s not a trivial thing.”
Randy Spain, Centennial’s principal, said he and the school are proud of their student.
“Gianna is definitely in rare company,” he said. “This outstanding accomplishment should prove helpful as she pursues future education and career goals.”
With a little more than eight months before graduation, getting the news this early into the school year will help her focus on finishing up high school instead of having to constantly worry about her plans next fall.
Gianna’s mom said this feat also allows the entire family to relax and give their daughter what she deserves.
“It means a really good education for her and taking away the stress of financial implications of being able to afford a really good school for her,” Annabelle said.
Gianna concedes the stress of figuring out her future, while also having to focus on the present was difficult to do and said she is excited about what the number 36 means to her.
“It means a brighter future, which is a really great thing,” she said. “It’s kind of a gratification for all of the years I’ve worked – I have something to show for it. Having this makes me feel so much better.”
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