At Providence St. Mel High School today, junior Mario Hoover is known as Mr. 36.
“It’s amazing,” he said. “When I first saw the score, I was surprised. I was elated, amazed.”
It’s a feat less than 1% of students achieve nationally. His mother couldn’t believe it.
“It’s a 36! I’m thinking, Mario is it real?” said Zippora Collins.
The 16-year-old got the score the second time he took the test, which includes maths, science, English and writing. The first time he rolled a 29.
“It was great for that to happen,” Hoover said. “But I never intended, I never imagined that I would get a perfect score.”
Principal Timothy Ervin, himself a graduate of Providence St. Mel, said the perfect score is the highest a student has achieved in the private school’s 42-year history, adding that since 1978, 100% of graduates received university scholarships.
“We have a senior this year who got a 34 on the ACT this year,” Ervin said. “We had students who won 34, 35, 33.”
Hoover began attending the prominent West Side school in third grade when the public school in his East Garfield Park neighborhood was closed along with 49 others by the city. His mother didn’t want him caught up in gangs fighting over territory on his ride.
“I’m from this neighborhood, so I know what’s going on,” her mother said.
Mario’s mother credits her son’s teachers and hard work for the high score, which the teenager hopes will help him achieve his dream of becoming a neurosurgeon.
Along with his 3.9 GPA and four advanced placement classes, the teenager has also found time to become an all-around musician. He also runs track while volunteering at the neighborhood Boys and Girls Club and at a local hospital.
“To do my best to boost my academic career and my professional career to inspire others to do the same,” he said. “Because once you have this platform, you can inspire people to change the world and you can change the world too.”
This summer, Mario will participate in a two-week program at the University of Oxford in England for secondary school students. After Mario completes his senior year and his degrees, he hopes to go to an Ivy League college.
Columbia University is at the top of his list — and he’s sure hoping that perfect score of 36 will get him noticed.
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