UPDATED 12/22/12 - Cameron Clarke, an African-American teen from Philadelphia, attained a perfect score on this year’s Scholastic Aptitude Test, joining an elite group of 360 U.S. students.
More than 1.66 million pupils took the college preparatory test in the spring of 2011, but Clarke, a Germantown Academy senior, was among the few to score a perfect 2,400. His target college: Princeton University.
It was an achievement that the teenager, in his humility, didn’t want to “brag or boast” about, said his father, Peter Clarke, in an interview with BlackAmericaWeb.com.
“He really didn’t want anyone to know about his score, so he didn’t tell anyone at Germantown Academy about it when he got the result in June,” said the elder Clarke, manager of the The Jamaican Reef Restaurant and Lounge in South Philadelphia’s upscale Penn’s Landing neighborhood.
Clarke’s extraordinary feat began receiving public attention after Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Jenice Armstrong heard about it “through happenstance,” his father said, and published the news in her column.
“He is the one who set all this in motion,” said the elder Clarke of his child’s accomplishment. And, the gratified parent said he told his son, “I am very proud of you, but I am also very happy for you, because you did this on your own.”
In an interview with the Inquirer’s Armstrong, the 18-year-old scholar said his perfect score required hard work and perseverance. This was the second time Clarke took the test—the first time he scored 2,190, which is better than 98.5 percent of all test-takers. However, the high-schooler knew it did not reflect his full potential.
"I put in a lot of work," Clarke said. "I took a prep class with some of my friends, and I did a lot of practice tests from a book.
"But that only prepares you so much," he added. "The difference between getting, like, a 2,400 and a couple of points lower is just focus.
"You can screw up or mess up on the smallest of things. And I just feel like on that particular day, I was focused and I got kind of lucky, I guess, that I didn't make any mistakes."
But Clarke had also shown extraordinary ability from an early age. His parents, Mary Jones, a Spanish teacher at Father Judge High School, and his father, the restaurant manager, took him for an IQ test at age 4. He scored a 151
And he distinguished himself during his time at Germantown Academy, which he attended since pre-school. Clarke is first cellist in the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra, is also a member of Germantown Academy’s Math Club, a math tutor, writes for the school newspaper and a member of the school’s cross country team.
Young Clarke is “an extraordinary young man who represents all the best things of his generation,” said Richard Schellhas, the headmaster of Germantown Academy’s Upper School, in an interview with BlackAmericaWeb. “He is smart, funny and a true Renaissance man in the breadth of his talent.”
This year’s SAT saw the largest class of test-takers in history, according to officials, and also the most diverse. Forty-five percent of test-takers were minority students (up from 44 percent in the class of 2011 and 38 percent in the class of 2008).