When Freedom High School junior Jack Swanson received an email in his inbox from ACT informing him that his test score was ready to view, he was understandably anxious.
The test gauges college readiness, and colleges and universities use students’ scores in the admissions process, so Jack knew a lot was riding on the results.
Thinking back to test day, Jack recalls feeling “overly-prepared,” and since he had not taken any formal prep classes or read any official books related to acing the test, he was relying on his school experience and his AP and humanities classes at Freedom to perform well.
And perform well he did. Jack scored a perfect 36 on the ACT.
“It was actually during school,” Jack said, remembering where he was when he learned of his score. “I felt as if a weight had been lifted from my shoulders. A lot of emphasis is placed on standardized testing today, so getting this out of the way was a great relief for me.”
Jack immediately texted two people: his mom and his friend and mentor Ben Succop, who scored a perfect 36 on the ACT while at Freedom in 2014. “I owe much of what I have accomplished to these two specifically,” Jack said of his mom and Ben. He gave credit to his teachers, too.
“Going into the test room, I felt overly-prepared and was confident that I could perform well,” Jack said. “After finishing, I couldn't think of a section I may have performed poorly on, but never anticipated a perfect score. All of the preparation I needed to perform well on the ACT came from the wonderful teachers at Freedom. I did not use a prep book or other outside sources; the academic rigor of the courses at Freedom was more than enough to prepare me for the ACT.”
He added, “I've taken many AP/Pre-AP courses in my time at Freedom, but the most influential of those would have to be AP Calculus/Stats with Mr. (Brent) and Mrs. (Kelly) Baker, and Mr. (Tim) Fossett's Pre-AP/AP English courses. AP and Pre-AP courses allow for a more in-depth approach to traditional curricula, allowing for a greater understanding and grasp of learning in general. Without having taken these classes, I could not have performed near as well as I did on the ACT.”
When he is not in class, Jack is busy with Quiz Bowl, Math Team, Key Club, National Honors Society, Ping Pong Club, Marching Band and Wind Ensemble (he plays the trombone) and Young Democrats.
He said, “I am particularly involved in the Young Democrats Club, where I serve as president and recently won election to the State Executive Board.”
It is his interest in politics that may drive Jack’s future.
He said, “Quite a bit has changed in the last few weeks, and I feel more confident on a career path than ever before. Over the past year, I've become heavily involved in politics on the state and local level, and had the wonderful opportunity to attend a state convention last weekend. Meeting with wonderful and inspiring speakers from around the country made me realize what it is I love doing. With that being said, I am now strongly considering a career in government and international affairs, with a possible extension into the legal field.”
With a perfect score on his ACT, he won’t have any trouble getting into a school of his choice. He said, “I'm looking to apply to an array of colleges, and am particularly interested in Chapel Hill, Duke, Harvard, Yale and Georgetown.”
Freedom Principal Mike Swan said, “It has been a pleasure to be involved with Jack's education during his last three years at Freedom. I am very proud of Jack's dedication, both in the classroom and with his many activities within the community. He continues to push himself and takes on multiple roles at Freedom to help mentor other students. It will be an honor to watch Jack walk the stage in 2018 as he receives his well-deserved diploma. During my career at Freedom, I have had the pleasure to not only watch Jack score a perfect 36 on the ACT, I have also had the opportunity to be part of Benjamin Succop's successful academic career. Having two students score a perfect 36 on the ACT not only shows the dedication on behalf of the young men mentioned, but also the solid foundation they have received from the Burke County School System and the hard work and dedication from the faculty and staff.”
Burke County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Larry Putnam said, “I am very proud of Jack and this awesome accomplishment. This puts him in rare company as only .1 percent of students who take the ACT achieve a perfect score. Jack has a bright future ahead of him, and I can’t wait to see the great things he is going to do out in the world.”