Gov. Ricketts and the 36ers

Gov. Pete Ricketts, center, Nebraska Commissioner of Education Matt Blomstedt, far right, and ACT representative Rob Dennis, far left, at the Nebraska State Capitol on Monday with high school seniors who earned a perfect score on the ACT college entrance exam. Two students had perfect scores on both the ACT and the SAT. Nebraska has been experiencing a rise in perfect scores for several years.

LINCOLN — The governor needed a bigger room Monday to honor all of this year’s Nebraska high school graduates with perfect ACT scores.

Gov. Pete Ricketts moved his annual ceremony to the Warner Legislative Chamber of the Nebraska State Capitol to accommodate a record 44 graduating seniors and their parents.

This year’s total is double the number of perfect scores last year.

It reflects a rise in high scores that Nebraska has been experiencing for several years.

Josh Gromowsky, a senior at Skutt Catholic High School in Omaha, achieved perfect scores on both the ACT and SAT college entrance exams.

Gromowsky said the surge in high scores is “really good for the state, it’s really exciting.”

He said that Skutt offers test prep through a John Baylor program and that students are taking the test more seriously.

“I think it used to be you took it once and called it good,” he said. “Whereas people now are striving for better scores to help their college preparation and help them get into a better college.”

The governor, an ACT official and Nebraska Commissioner of Education Matt Blomstedt presented certificates to the graduates, shook their hands and praised them for their rare accomplishment.

Addressing the students, Ricketts said that some would probably pursue further education out of state. He urged them to one day return and pursue their long-term careers in Nebraska.

“Please come back to Nebraska,” he said.

“If you’re not in Nebraska, and you face that decision, wherever you are, ask yourself this question: Did the governor of that state ask you to stay there?”

That drew laughs from the crowd.

Ricketts told the group that a perfect score “doesn’t just happen because you crammed one night for exams, it happens through years of preparation. But you also didn’t do it by yourself either. You had a great support net — your parents, teachers, your educators — to be able to make that happen.”

Gromowsky plans to attend the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where he will double major in political science and math. He plans to go to law school.

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Gromowsky credited his academic success to good schools, a supportive family, being a conscientious student and keeping up with his schoolwork.

Teachers challenged him but also encouraged him to pursue what he wanted to learn about, he said.

Sibling rivalry played a role, too, he said.

“My brother also got a perfect ACT, so I was always trying to catch him,” he said.

Asked for tips on taking the test, Gromowsky said he would encourage students to take it multiple times.

“Don’t be afraid to take it again,” he said. “I took the ACT four times, and I got it on my fourth time. Be consistent, be determined, don’t be satisfied with less than you think you can get.”

The following 2019 high school graduates earned perfect ACT scores:

  • Bellevue East — Casey Nolte.
  • Bellevue West — Joshua Welling.
  • Elkhorn — Mia Giandinoto, Megan Raszler.
  • Mount Michael Benedictine —Patrick Collins, J.P. Jensen.
  • Gering — Brock Parker.
  • Grand Island — Samuel Harvey.
  • Lincoln East — Kyle Allen, Alix Cui, Alexander Petty, Akshit Sharma, Jennifer Wang, Crystal Xu, Isaac Zhang, Enya Zhu.
  • Lincoln High — Eric Lesiak, Johanna Schubert.
  • Pius X — Thomas Kotopka.
  • Millard North — Ethan Chen, Noah Ford, Campbell Haasch, William Nervig, Khoa Nguyen, Charlie Peng, Emma Ulrich.
  • Duchesne Academy — Lesley Lam.
  • Brownell-Talbot — Laura Liu, Meera Nair, Sukanya Kennamthiang.
  • Elkhorn South — Ted Gernhart, Michael Kelly.
  • Creighton Prep — Samuel Forrest, Matthew Muellner. Muellner also had a perfect SAT score.
  • Marian — Abby McGill.
  • Omaha North — Noah Crawford.
  • Millard West — Alex Vaslow, Ryan Hruby.
  • Westside — Ciara Baumert.
  • Skutt — Josh Gromowsky, Nathan Fletcher, Joseph McAuliffe. Gromowsky also had a perfect SAT score.
  • Papillion-La Vista South — Jackson Haselhorst, Darby Ronning.

Joe covers education for The World-Herald, focusing on pre-kindergarten through high school. Phone: 402-444-1077.

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