Fife High School senior scores a rare perfect ACT test

Kodi Cumbo says he could have been better prepared for the ACT exam.

His perfect score says otherwise.

Fife High School Principal Amanda Fox said the 17-year-old senior is the first student in the school’s history to earn the highest possible composite score of 36 on the assessment, which universities use to evaluate high school graduates seeking higher education.

“I spent one weekend with a (test) prep book,” Kodi said. He decided at the last-minute to take the ACT when he realized some colleges he was interested in preferred it over the SAT.

Less than one-tenth of 1 percent of all test takers earn a perfect score on the ACT, according to the ACT organization. Among high school graduates in the class of 2014 who took the test, only 1,407 out of 1.85 million students earned a composite score of 36.

Kodi took the SAT, too. He scored 2190, which is higher than the average score accepted at many of the top colleges in the country. A perfect SAT score is 2400 and the national average is 1500, according to The Princeton Review.

Sherri Cumbo said her son — the oldest of two boys — always had his nose buried in books as a kid. She might be the only mom who ever had to pry books out of her child’s hands, she joked.

In first grade, he was reading at an eighth-grade level; in third grade, a 12th-grade level.

“Kodi’s always been very exceptional,” his mother said.

Sherri Cumbo said she was so proud when she read the letter from ACT Chief Executive Officer Jon Whitmore, congratulating her son on perfection.

“Your achievement on the ACT is significant and rare,” he wrote. “Your exceptional scores will provide any college to which you chose to apply ample evidence of your readiness for the academic rigors that lie ahead.”

Sherri Cumbo is proud that Kodi managed to achieve something so great in between all of his other commitments.

He’s editor-in-chief of the school’s magazine, president of Key Club, vice president of Technology Student Association and an active member of the Future Business Leaders of America.

He also regularly volunteers at the food bank in Edgewood and works at the Fife Dairy Queen — all while working toward his associate’s degree at Tacoma Community College as a full-time Running Start student.

“I see him in passing,” Sherri Cumbo said. “I don’t think he ever sleeps.”

Kodi started volunteering at the Edgewood Community FISH food bank when he was 14, an age that manager Kate Wright said is unusual for beginners.

Wright said he’s worked 960-plus hours in weekly increments ever since. He serves on the advisory board and is a “quiet, kind leader,” she said, who has built connections between Fife school groups and the food bank.

“You name it, that kid will do it,” Wright said. “I can’t say enough about him.”

John Stephens, adviser for the high school’s Technology Student Association, said Kodi gives “200 percent of himself, not just in school but after school.”

He’s competed in many state and national technology competitions and mastered all the skills at them, Stephens said, and he even fixes the club’s equipment when it breaks.

“He’s going to make a fantastic engineer if that’s what he chooses to do,” he said.

Kodi said he hopes to attend the University of Washington to study computer science. But the National Merit Scholarship semifinalist said he’ll go anywhere he can land a full-ride scholarship. He interviewed with Harvard University last week.

His accomplishments practically leave his mother speechless.

“What can you say about it,” she said. “It’s just awesome.”