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Oviedo Journalism

The student news site of Oviedo High School in Oviedo, FL

Oviedo Journalism

The student news site of Oviedo High School in Oviedo, FL

Oviedo Journalism

Lia Swanson has their ACT together

Student receives a perfect score on the ACT for the first time in OHS history
Grace Pearl
Senior Lia Swanson relaxes in their favorite teacher’s classroom, participating in the Creative Writing Club. Swanson demonstrates strict focus while practicing writing skills. These skills may have helped them in gaining a perfect ACT score.

Students whisper about ACT scores being released across the AP Biology classroom. Everyone opens their mobile devices quickly, along with Lia Swanson. Hugged in a clean turquoise circle, sits the flawless 36. Realization along with disbelief dawns on Swanson, rushing to excitedly inform the person beside them. Although there have been many cases where ACT scores were released over the past several decades, Swanson may have been the first to have ever seen the pairing between the two numbers on Oviedo High School grounds. 

Swanson’s impeccable achievement was broadcast on WESH 2, Fox 35, Spectrum News, the SCPS Spotlight, and the weekly Principal’s Update. This is an important feat for Oviedo High School, especially after recently marking the centennial of the school. 

Trent Daniel, the principal, noted her enthusiasm about the matter, “I was really excited for her and pleasantly shocked, since I’ve never had a student earn a perfect ACT score before.”

Swanson, senior, wants to be a lawyer, but is uncertain in what direction to go. However, it definitely supports the dream of getting into the University of Washington. Swanson has worked hard for this moment, and it is evident to those around them. 

Current Advanced Placement Literature teacher, Kimberly Finnegan, noted her reaction to the news on her student:

“I was super proud of her and thought, ‘Yeah that makes sense.’”

Swanson’s favorite subject is English, stating, “It’s like detective work. If you’re reading something and you try to figure out what it means, we’re [being a detective] for you [with] literary devices, purposes, allegories, and things that could be embedded within. It’s like being Sherlock Holmes essentially.”

Finnegan mentioned how Swanson can professionally dissect stories like no other student. Her pupil clearly puts in the effort to be immersed and active in the class.

“She’s really on the nose with her understandings and interpretations, and she takes them that extra step,” she said.

Dr. Daniel described the traits required to get such a high score to be “desire, drive, and of course, an innate intelligence and love of learning.” 

Swanson clearly exhibits these qualities, as according to their teacher.

“She just has a really quick mind; she absorbs information. She absolutely loves literature and anything that has to do with deeper thinking,” Finnegan said. 

Finnegan has also gotten the privilege to watch Swanson grow over the past semester, “She volunteers in class, which she didn’t do as much at the beginning of the year. I’ve seen her confidence grow and share opinions.”

However, she does state that Swanson seemingly “came this way” and does not know how much influence she had over her student. She believes that Swanson possesses natural talent that would allow them to teach the class without assistance if they wanted. 

“I think we’re there as those to encourage them to help build their confidence, especially with students like Lia. The thing that students need most is just encouragement and a reminder that yeah, you do have strong abilities and don’t let anybody tell you differently,” Finnegan said.

Although Swanson strived to do exceptional on the ACT, the main scope of focus was on a completely different test, the Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test (PSAT), which they also did exceptionally well on to the point of not even having to take the SAT.

“I prepared for the PSAT, the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. So for that, I did practice tests at my house and then went to the actual PSAT. The ACT was after that, and I think the practice I did for the PSAT helped me with that,” Swanson said.

Swanson’s character allowed them to get to this point with a structured outlook on what they do.

“Things [for Lia] are done with a purpose, and I think that translates to things like the ACT, where she’s methodical. She takes her time through it. She thinks things through and uses her intellect to her advantage.”

It is important for Swanson to score well, and all the practice put into it shows dedication. As any student like them, academic validation is a crucial part of motivation.

“I think at times I can attach a lot of my sense of self-worth to my academic performance, so you know, I definitely wanted to do well,” they said.

The principal noted the apparency with their ACT results. 

“She worked extremely hard and practiced on her own to obtain the perfect score. This demonstrates that hard academic work does pay off,” Dr. Daniel said. 

Swanson revealed that their inspiration is not only derived from English and their teachers, but also their classmates.

 “There’s something admirable about almost everyone, but, especially, I think I look more to my peers, because there’s a sense of power in youth and adolescents that adults don’t really possess.”

Overall, Dr. Daniel believes Swanson’s work continues to support the image of Oviedo High School, with its representation as a continued A+ school, earning the most of the letter grade in the state.

“OHS is home of Champions and Scholars. We produce students who are competitive in academics, arts, and athletics (the 3 A’s),” she said. “Showcasing Lia helps provide a role model for future Lions on what is obtainable as a student here.”

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    MalloryMar 25, 2024 at 10:43 AM

    This is an amazing achievement. I think their end result really shows how hard work and practice pays off. They set their mind to getting a high score and were able to get it. It’s a motivating story as well, because it makes me think I could do something similar.