GHS senior earns perfect score on ACT

Third time’s the charm for Alaina Knier, who credits rigorous high school curriculum for her unexpected success on college entrance exam

    Grafton High School senior Alaina Knier wasn’t expecting to achieve a perfect score on her ACT exam when she checked her messages during a visit to Northwestern University two weeks ago.  
    “I couldn’t really believe it because I was in shock. My first thought was, ‘Is this right or is it a mistake?’” Knier said, noting she and her mother began to celebrate in front of a group of strangers when they found out. “It was a little embarrassing, but I was surprised because I had no hope of even coming close to achieving a score of 36.”
    Knier said she had taken the ACT two times previously and took it a third time just to improve her math score.
    “I got a 33 on both tests, and because I got the same score twice I didn’t think it would go up,” she said.
    Approximately 0.1% of students who take the ACT earn a perfect score, according to ACT’s national report for the graduating class of 2016.
    Knier credits her success to the rigorous classes she’s taken, including seven Advanced Placement classes and several courses in the high school’s Project Lead the Way program.
    “Definitely my AP Biology class helped with the science portion of the test,” she said. “I’m also an avid reader, so all of the English classes that I’ve taken helped with the writing and grammar sections on the test.”
    According to Knier, her studies in Project Lead the Way have motivated her to pursue a career in biomedical research. She said she wants to help people by discovering cures for various diseases, but she doesn’t have the stomach to do invasive medical work.
    “Alaina is a wonderful young woman. It is so exciting to see a student that I have taught all four years accomplish all that Alaina has,” said Project Lead the Way teacher Fran Grant, who also wrote Knier’s letter of college recommendation.
    Knier has applied to seven colleges — Northwestern University, Johns Hopkins University, University of Toronto, Northeastern University, Boston College, Washington University in St. Louis and the University of Minnesota Twin Cities.
    She said her decision to pursue challenging schools for next year is a result of her parents’ gentle guidance.
    “My parents always pushed my siblings and I to do the best we can. I think I care about my grades more than they do,” Knier said. “As long as we’re trying our best and doing all that we can, they’re happy with what we’re accomplishing. They’ve never pushed me to do anything I didn’t want to do.”
    When Knier isn’t busy studying for her classes, she devotes her study hall to tutoring other students.
    She is also an involved member in the high school’s forensics program, theater department, HOSA – Future Health Professionals, National Honor Society, Cloverleaf 4-H Club and Helping Hands Healing Hooves. She is also the manager of her high school’s Destination Imagination team.



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