Huron junior scores a perfect 1600 on the SAT

It’s a weight off her shoulders, but Anita Gaenko is almost nonchalant about the accomplishment

Huron High School junior Anita Gaenko knew she did well when she left Brighton High School after taking her SAT on Oct. 1, 2022.

But she was nonetheless surprised when the results were in.

It was a perfect score of 1600.

According to Dan Berger, Director of Teaching & Learning Research for AAPS, who looked at data from seven SAT test dates in the fall of 2022, Anita Gaenko was the only AAPS student who scored 1600.

And while she is happy with the score, Anita is almost nonchalant about it.

“I don’t think it’s the best measure of intelligence,” she said during a lunch break at Huron this week. “I’m proud of myself for doing well on the test. But I don’t think that makes me the smartest person in the room or the smartest person in the school.”

Still, it was a huge weight off her shoulders.

“In your junior year everyone makes such a huge deal about it, that you have to do well on the SAT,” she said. “Over and over again. And so I think it was a huge stress taken off of me that I don’t have to worry about this anymore.”

Another thing she no longer worries about is maintaining a 4.0 GPA. That’s because she now has “only” a 3.9—all thanks to an organic chemistry course she took earlier this year at the University of Michigan in which she received an A-minus.

“I was a little bit disappointed to have lost the 4.0 but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that college organic chemistry is not the worst thing to lose it to. And it’s almost like a relief because now there’s no way I can get the 4-point back. So it’s like for the rest of my time at school, I don’t have to be constantly worried about maintaining exactly perfect. I just have to be as good as I can.”

(The class at U-M is available through the district’s Community Resource program.)

Anita didn’t do a lot of intensive studying for the SATs specifically, although she did take a couple of practice tests.

What she did, and what she has been doing for years, is read a lot.

And that’s what she thinks made a difference.

“I think the best way to study for the SAT is just to read a lot, not just to do the practice problems, especially for the reading section which a lot of people say is harder to master,” she said. “Just keep reading all the time. And then you start to realize what looks right and what doesn’t.”

She says her best subject is science while she’s less fond of subjects that require lots of memorizing names and numbers.

As for Huron High School?

“It’s given me a lot of great opportunities and l especially like going to the university for classes,” she said.  I think it’s a great thing that the school does. Yeah. I can’t complain!”

Her parents say their daughter’s SAT score justly reflects her knowledge and her hard work.

“However much we would like to take credit for that—after all,  we do believe that we laid the foundations early in Anita’s life, teaching her basic counting and reading her bedtime stories— we can not really do that,” said her father, Alexander Gaenko.

“Anita was very fortunate to have passionate, dedicated teachers since her early years, starting with her daycare, kindergarten, and elementary school, and going into middle and high school,” said her mother, Ajitha Devarajan. “Performing well on tests was never a goal in itself. All we did was to encourage and support her in expanding her knowledge and taking up challenging tasks: the rest was her own effort,  her own curious mind, and her own hard work.” 

“Our hope is that Anita will never stop being curious and will never stop learning,  no matter what occupation in science,  technology, or arts she chooses.”

Anita Gaenko

  • Schools attended:  Fellows Elementary in Ames, Iowa, A2STEAM, Clague Middle School, and Huron.
  • Post-high school hopes: to study biomedical engineering, possibly at the University of Michigan.
  • Possible career: physician-scientist.
  • Favorite teachers: Huron High School teachers Sara-Beth Badalamente, Martha Hale, and Kathryn Jones.
  • Top favorite classes so far at Huron: Newspaper, and AP Biology.
  • Hobbies/clubs/affiliations: Playing the piano, Science Bowl, Science Olympiad, Ethics Bowl.
  • The perfect Saturday: spending time with my friends, ideally on a beach somewhere.
  • Advice for incoming Huron freshmen: Join a lot of clubs to find out for yourself what you love doing

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