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The Out-of-Door Academy students Gabriella Costa, Alex Ruschau, Melanie Mason, Kevin Moody and Payton Hensonn each earned a perfect score on a section of the SAT. Pam Eubanks.
East County Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013 4 years ago

ODA students ink perfect scores

by: Pam Eubanks Senior Editor

LAKEWOOD RANCH — Not many students make “the perfect score.”

But five seniors at The Out-of-Door Academy have done just that, scoring perfect 800s on one portion each of the SAT.

Gabriella Costa, Payton Henson, Kevin Moody, Alex Ruschau and Melanie Mason spent countless hours practicing and preparing for the college-entrance exam — often giving up free time with friends to prepare, in addition to applying to colleges and taking Advanced Placement courses. But, they said, the hard work paid off.

“It’s definitely been a challenge (to balance everything), but it’s taught us to manage our time,” Mason said. “It’s going to help us with college.”

Students said they were able to learn and understand the concepts behind SAT questions with the help of their teachers, so they could devise their answers quickly. Even if they weren’t 100% sure of the answers, they could still apply the concepts they’d learned to make a best guess.

The students laughed when Moody jested, “We’re all really good at random guessing.”

Students said they performed best in the subject areas in which they naturally perform well — Costa, Moody and Ruschau in math, Mason in writing and Henson in reading.

And, they also said, despite their excitement to perform well on the SAT, they didn’t feel their accomplishment put them at the head of their class academically. The test, they said, isn’t so much a measure of talent, as a combination of academics, preparation and luck.

“We have a lot of people who are very talented in our grade,” Ruschau said. “We all excel in different ways.”

“Just because you didn’t get a 600 doesn’t mean you’re not talented in something else,” Moody added.
With their senior year more than halfway finished, the students said they are eager to have the SAT behind them and college on the horizon.

David Mahler, head of school for The Out-of-Door Academy, said he was proud of the students’ accomplishments.

“Typically, we have a couple (do this well), but five in one class is more than we have in an average year,” Mahler said. “They covered all three testing (categories). I think it’s a good reflection on the quality of teaching at The Out-of-Door and the breadth of our curriculum.”


Gabriella Costa
Age: 17
Favorite subject: Math
Likely career: Engineering or other
Hobbies: Volleyball
Category of perfect score: Math

Payton Henson
Age: 18
Favorite subject: Physics and history
Likely career: “Not a clue.”
Hobbies: Diving, spear fishing and rock climbing
Category of perfect score: Reading

Melanie Mason
Age: 17
Favorite subject: History
Likely career: Undecided
Hobbies: Soccer and singing
Category of perfect score: Writing

Kevin Moody
Age: 17
Favorite subject: Math
Likely career: Computer science or aeronautical engineering
Hobbies: Aviation (has pilot’s license)
Category of perfect score: Math

Alex Ruschau
Age: 17
Favorite subject: Math and science
Likely career: Materials or chemical engineering
Hobbies: Outdoor activities, such as fishing and kayaking
Category of perfect score: Math

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