Matthew Craig and Gerrick Cardenas, both members of Bishop Montgomery’s Class of 2019, have recorded perfect scores on their SAT and ACT exams, respectively.
Craig took the exam in December 2017 and learned shortly after that he had achieved what only .03% of test takers had — a perfect 1600. Craig also earned a perfect 800 on his SAT II Math exam in June and was recently named a National Merit Semi-Finalist.
Cardenas took the September 2018 ACT and, three weeks later, learned of his achievement online. “I was so excited,” said Cardenas. “I didn’t believe it at first. I just kept looking at the score.” Cardenas’ 36 was a score earned by only one-tenth of one percent of ACT test takers nationwide.
Cardenas, a graduate of Carnegie Middle School in Carson, has been enrolled at Bishop Montgomery since his freshman year. With five Advanced Placement courses, including two math classes — AP Calculus and AP Statistics — on his current schedule, Cardenas carries an impressive academic load. Looking ahead to college, he plans to major in electrical or mechanical engineering and is excited about what doors college will open, saying, “I look forward to a lot of research opportunities, a lot of resources, and even more ways to learn.” He is currently applying to colleges across the country including Harvey Mudd, Stanford, MIT, Dartmouth, and Harvard.
Outside of the classroom, Cardenas enjoys playing second base on BMHS’ baseball team and being involved with his local community through service organizations like Heal the Bay and the American Red Cross. “I like serving my community, so I usually volunteer for anything that pops up,” he said.
On the baseball field, Cardenas’ achievement isn’t too much of a shock to those who know him, including varsity head coach Eric Fuller. “Gerrick’s perfect score is no surprise. His work ethic and resiliency are a big part of who he is on and off the baseball field.” Fuller continues, “I’m extremely proud of him, both as a member of this baseball program and as a member of our Bishop Montgomery community.”
Like Cardenas, Craig excels academically with courses that include AP Physics, AP Calculus, and AP Latin. Rigorous curriculum, though, has always been the norm for the Redondo Beach teen and he has learned the key to success in even the most demanding of high school classes: “With the difficulty of courses at Bishop, I’ve learned to manage my time. Time management has been most important with the workload of honors and AP classes.”
Though his high school career has been full of challenges already, he looks forward to what college will bring. “I’m excited about variety of subjects that I can delve into and have the opportunity to work with outstanding professors and mentors,” said Craig. His top choices for college include MIT, Princeton, Stanford, and a few of the UC schools, where he plans to major in computer science and pursue a career in the same field or in artificial intelligence. “Computer science has always really interested me, so I can’t wait to get a really deep education in that area.”
His BMHS academic counselor Doug Mitchell has no doubt of Craig’s future success. “Since his freshman year, Matt has always stood out as hard worker and as a student willing to push himself academically to achieve his goals,” Mitchell said. “He’s at the top of his class and deserves to be there.”
In addition to being an outstanding student, Craig is involved in many extra-curricular activities throughout the South Bay. He is a founding member and president of Bishop’s Technology and Programming Club, a varsity cross country runner, a community member of Redondo Union High School’s First Robotics Competition Team, and, as of June 28, an Eagle Scout. Craig earned the scout rank by designing and constructing a gaga ball pit at St. Lawrence Martyr School, his alma mater. “Gaga ball is like dodgeball,” explained Craig, “but players can only strike below the knees... It’s a gentler version of dodge ball and perfect for kids of any age, especially little ones.”
Though humble about their SAT and ACT achievements, Cardenas’ and Craig’s accomplishment is truly one for the record books. According to ACT Inc., in 2017, only .136% of test takers nationwide achieved a 36 score in 2017. And, last year, 1.7 million students took the SAT; about one in 3,400 earned a perfect score (.0002%), according to the College Board. For Bishop Montgomery, it is the first time the school has had students record both perfect SAT and ACT scores in the same year.
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