Traverse City Record-Eagle


January 21, 2014

Elk Rapids teen attains a top 36 ACT score

ELK RAPIDS — Austin Wolfgram had more on his mind than taking the ACT test last month.

“The day I took the test was the day of my dad’s brain surgery,” he said. “It was a little rough.”

But the Elk Rapids High School junior attained a top score of 36 on the Dec. 13 college admissions exam; he missed just two questions out of 210, a testament to his self-direction, said his dad, Vern.

“I was thinking about him that day,” Vern said. “But he’s on his own path, and that was a step in this path. I wished him well, and he did his thing.”

To put the achievement in perspective, less than one-tenth of one percent of students who take the ACT earn a top score of 36, said Katie Wacker, spokeswoman for ACT, Inc.

Austin’s school performance this past year is impressive, as well, especially considering his dad’s ongoing battle with brain cancer, said Terri Reisig, Austin’s debate coach and advanced placement teacher.

“Sometimes when students have these traumatic circumstances to interfere with the everyday comings and goings of life, school gets put on the back-burner,” Reisig said.

Austin not only stayed engaged, but is extremely active in a wide range of academic and after-school activities, she said.

“I think he’s an amazing young man,” she said. “He’s on the debate team, he’s a soccer player, he’s absolutely intrigued with the world of ideas. He’s an amazing writer. He’s a performer. He’s had major roles in the school musicals, and he’s an accomplished singer. He’s an example of the best of the Renaissance men.”

Yet his dad was never far from his mind, or that of the community’s. Vern’s first surgery was in January; he had to take three months off his teaching job to recover. Community members showed their support last March with a fundraiser at Pearl’s New Orleans Kitchen.

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