Tuesday, February 12, 2013


Thirty-six.  XXXVI. 100100.  Six squared.  At first glance, 36 is a somewhat unassuming number.  Nothing special, hardly remarkable.  Ho-hum, who cares.  But pair it with three equally unassuming letters, A C & T, and 36 becomes, well…


 And rare. According to DESE, more than 1.6 million students nationwide take the ACT college entrance exam each year, and only around 700 of them earn a perfect score.  That’s about .04%.  A total of just 29 Missouri students scored a perfect 36 in 2012, and one of them, Dan Politte, is a senior at University City High School.

A born and bred UCity boy, Dan began his journey to academic greatness as a kindergartner at Jackson Park Elementary.  He attended Brittany Woods Middle School, and will graduate from University City High School this May.  As you might expect, he carries a challenging course load, heavy on AP (Advanced Placement) classes. In fact, he’s taking five this year, which is roughly equivalent to a full college load.  It’s not all nose-to-the-grindstone academics, though. Dan is a founding member of the UCHS FIRST Robotics Competition team, the Robolions, and active in the UCHS Latin Club.  He is also a member of the UCHS Certamen team (think Quiz Bowl for classics students), which finished first in state at last year’s Missouri Junior Classical League convention.   In January, Dan was one of 26 UCHS students who travelled to Washington, DC to attend the presidential inauguration, an experience he describes as “thrilling.”

 It goes without question that Dan is smart.  Really smart.  But is that all it takes to earn a perfect ACT score? In a recent Huffington Post interview, ACT spokesperson Ed Colby explains that:

“The ACT is a curriculum-based test. It's like a course exam in that way. It's not the kind of test that test prep is going to help you get a 36. You have to learn content in challenging courses that you take in school.”  

Dan would concur.  Although he did attend the ACT prep courses offered by the high school as a sophomore (he got a 35 that year) he attributes his success to the fact that he has had “innumerable great teachers at U City High.”   Dan also has parents who are active and involved in our schools. It’s a winning formula: smart kid + hard work + great teachers + supportive parents = success.

 So what’s next for Dan? He’s applied to Mizzou, The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, The University of Minnesota, Washington University Saint Louis, The University of Michigan, and Case Western Reserve University. He has acceptance letters from the first three, and I suspect more are on the way. Dan’s hoping to combine his two passions, robotics and Latin, into engineering and classics double major.  When asked what advice he would give his fellow students, Dan says,

“I've found out that it is possible to hold down the workload that comes with multiple AP classes. The important thing is to keep working, and you can indeed get everything done. Other than that, I don't seek to give advice: I'm just as much a beginner at this whole "life" thing as everyone else.” 

A beginner, perhaps, but such a stellar beginning.  Well done, Dan.  You’ve made us all very proud.

UPDATE:  Dan, who will be attending Washington University this fall, is the recipient of the first Alvin Marvin Ostro Class of 1945 Student Achievement Memorial Scholarship.  This $1,000 scholarship is awarded to a graduating University City High School senior who has displayed exceptional performance in one or more of the following areas: academics, citizenship, sportsmanship and community service. 
by Kim Deitzler, guest blogger


  1. Nice story and great job Dan! I do love to hear that taking multiple AP courses is not too overwhelming and can be done. I do worry about that with my daughter going to high school but you have to learn the content in these challenging classes and that helps with the test. U make us proud!!

  2. Well-written story about an exceptional achievement. Exceptional in involving a perfect score. Not exceptional in involving a UCHS student receiving an excellent college-prep education, replete with fine teachers, engaging extracurriculars, and AP courses truly demanding college-level work. It all adds up to students known to admissions officers to be excellent additions to their student bodies, students capable of jumping right into college work as freshmen.

  3. Congratulations to Dan. He is amazing and deserves all of these awards. Just a factual correction, though: the Latin Club certamen team won in 2011, not 2012.