Best and brightest: Deptford students honored for perfect PARCC scores

The Deptford Township Board of Education spent time during its most recent meeting to recognize some of the district’s best and brightest.

Six students were honored for their excellent academic performances on the 2018 PARCC Assessment exams: Landon Sentak (an 850 score), Machelle Le (850), Ethan Tamayo (850), Kennedy Davis (850), Chinmayee Narayan (849), and Mark Escarrilla (849).

“Quite frankly, it’s pretty remarkable,” Kevin Kanauss, the chief academic officer of Deptford Schools said during the ceremony. “It’s a major accomplishment. This is not an easy assessment and these students did very well. This speaks to how college- and career-ready they are, and what a tremendous asset they will be to the workforce and in college when they get older.”

The results from last spring’s PARCC (Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Career) exams were released last month. Performances in both English/language Arts (ELA) and math improved in the district over the last four years.

One particular area Deptford students excelled in, according to the test results, was the ELA scores among eighth grade students, with 89.9 percent of such students falling into the three highest categories of the ratings system.

Davis, who aced a perfect score in the ELA portion of PARCC, is one of those students. She is an eighth grader at Monongahela Middle School.

“I had no idea this was going to happen. When I heard from my friend, because my ELA teacher was telling everyone, it was crazy,” Kennedy said of the Oct. 30 ceremony. “It means everything because I’ve been working hard for so long. To get a perfect score on a standardized test is crazy.”

Although she still has four years at Deptford High School in front of her, Davis is hoping to apply to Ivy League schools in the not-so-distant future.

“I want to be a doctor or a surgeon,” she said. “I want something that challenges me, and you never know what’s going to happen in the medical field, you always need more doctors in the world.”

Tamayo, another eighth grader at Monongahela who got a perfect score in ELA, would like to attend Drexel University and possibly focus on an engineering degree.

“Maybe biomedical engineering, so I can build prosthetics for people,” Tamayo said.

“He’s an incredibly bright kid,” said his ELA teacher, Danielle Lehman. “His efforts from birth until now have got him here, but it also shows the tools, support and resources that he’s gotten to highlight his strengths. … I feel incredibly proud for (all of them), because these kids are putting so much energy and effort into their academics and this wasn’t an easy test.

“The PARCC exam is incredibly difficult and challenging. To see these kids compared to the best kids in the state and be at the top of the ranks with them, it’s just unbelievable and it makes me incredibly proud for them and their accomplishments.”

In addition to the students, each of their teachers in the subject they excelled in on the PARCC exam were recognized, too. They posed with the students for photos after the kids received a certificate and medal from Kanauss.

“A lot of thanks go out to the teachers, who spent countless hours working with the students, prepared and challenged them to raise to the occasion with the PARCC exam,” Kanauss said.

“It brings good spotlight to the teachers of Deptford,” said Matthew Huminski, a sixth grade math teacher at Shady Lane. “I think we have a lot of great teachers in the district and it’s nice to get recognized by the board this way.”

Huminski took a photo with Sentak, one of the Deptford students who received a perfect score in the math portion of the PARCC exam.

“For me, Landen is just a brilliant student,” Huminski said. “You wouldn’t normally say it, but it doesn’t surprise me with him. He’s one of the smartest students I’ve ever seen come through. So it’s great to see his hard work has paid off. It makes me feel real good and it’s a good spot for the district. I couldn’t be happier for him, I’m really proud of what he’s accomplished and the work he’s put in.”

Sentak, Tamayo, Davis, Le, Narayan, and Escarrilla and their teachers wore bright smiles on Halloween eve. Being recognized for past achievements was fulfilling, but also motivating as they move forward onto new goals and academic challenges.

“(This) shows that I’ve been working really hard,” Tamayo said, “and if I work even harder I’ll be able to do great things.”