The Clark County School District’s well-publicized problems tend to overshadow its many successes. The nation’s fifth-largest school district features plenty of dedicated educators in the classroom and a host of shining stars who excel in their studies.
Recently, five students at Clark High School learned that they had earned perfect scores on the ACT, a college entrance exam that includes multiple-choice questions in math, English, reading and science. As many as 2 million high school juniors in the United States take the exam each year and only about 8,000 — 0.4 percent — run the table.
“It’s so rare,” Clark principal Kerry Larnerd said. “It really is not something that happens often.”
The high achievers — who overcame the challenges of COVID lockdowns and distance learning — are Grace Hwang, Melodie Cin, Edwin Ma, Hannah Pham and Samuel Hwang. Grace and Samuel are twins.
“There’s a lot coming from the student, but the environment with the peer groups and the teachers are helping her,” Lee Pham, Hannah’s father, told the RJ. “You can’t ignore the fact that CCSD did provide availability for rigor and success for a local student.”
Clark offers three magnet programs, which have earned several awards. Such programs attract motivated kids who appreciate that learning requires personal dedication and hard work. These students also tend to have family support systems that value academic excellence. The five Clark students are all Asian American, but the formula for success transcends ethnicity.
To “say that education is something associated with Asian Americans, it discounts the fact that it’s not something that’s only limited to one ethnic group,” Samuel Hwang said. “These skills that you pick up from your family and peers, they can be transferable to other students from different backgrounds.”
Mr. Hwang, who has had letters to the editor published in the RJ, is wise beyond his years. Over the weekend, he wrote to note that he and other students are discussing the creation of a “free, districtwide peer-to-peer tutoring program, which is an ideal way to enhance the network of support for all students,” particularly those who lack a home environment conducive to learning. The program would provide “extra time for learning, greater access to academic resources, study skills and experiences and, most importantly, a network of healthy peer-based social support that is critical to student development.”
Superintendent Jesus Jara may want to hire this young man.
These five Clark students — and the many other district kids who succeed in the classroom — stand as a testament to what is possible through diligence, application, and encouragement. The school district has its struggles, no doubt. But we mustn’t forget its inspiring triumphs.