Five Valley Students Achieve Top ACT Scores
Valley High School seniors Cayden Codel, Arjun Ganga, Evan Burnham, Gabriel Mintzer, and Guowei Qi, who all earned top composite scores on the ACT.
For the first time in Valley High School history, five students in a single graduating class have earned top composite scores of 36 on the ACT, according to ACT, Inc. Seniors Evan Burnham, Cayden Codel, Arjun Ganga, Gabriel Mintzer, and Guowei Qi all earned the highest composite score possible on the college readiness exam.
These students are five of only 10 students in Iowa and 2,234 students in the nation who earned scores of 36 on the ACT in 2016. The national number of students earning a composite score of 36 varies from year to year, but only about one-tenth of one percent of students receive a top score. Out of the 2.3 million students who took the ACT last year, just 2,235 students earned top composite scores. The ACT consists of tests in English, mathematics, reading and science. Each test is scored on a scale of 1-36, and a student’s composite score is the average of the four test scores.
Based on 2016 data, Valley High School’s average composite score of 24.2 exceeds both state and national averages. With an average composite score of 22.1, Iowa has the highest average ACT composite score in the nation among states that test a majority of their graduating seniors. The national average is 20.8.
Congratulations to the five Valley High School seniors who earned top composite scores on the ACT:
Evan Burnham, son of Jeffrey and Natalie Burnham of Windsor Heights, is a member of Valley High School’s National Honor Society chapter. He is also a member of the Iowa Youth Congress. During his senior year, Burnham will continue work on his Valley High School Science Scholar capstone project and his Silver Cord service award. He is also a member of the Valley High School basketball team.
Cayden Codel, son of Franklin and Tracy Codel of West Des Moines, is a member of the Valley High School knowledge bowl, mock trial, and swim teams. He is also a member of Valley’s National Honor Society chapter and is head of the chapter’s student tutoring committee. He is a member of the Moody’s Mega Math Challenge Team and has worked as a summer junior counselor at the Science Center of Iowa. Codel also earned placement in the Valley High School show choir, Iowa Opus Honor Choir, and Iowa All-State Orchestra, and he participates in the Plymouth Congregational Church Youth Choir.
Arjun Ganga, son of Keka and Prabhakar Ganga of West Des Moines, is the co-founder and co-director of the Des Moines Student-to-Student STEM Speaker Series, which provides students with monthly lectures given by STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) professionals. Ganga is a member of the Valley High School science bowl and tennis teams and the Principal’s Advisory Council. He is also involved in National Honor Society, student government, National Council of Youth Leadership, and the Silver Cord volunteer program. Ganga also takes private piano lessons at the Drake University Community School of Music.
Gabriel Mintzer, son of Michael Mintzer and Alla Mintzer-Zaprudsky of West Des Moines, is the co-founder and co-director of the Des Moines Student-to-Student Speaker Series, which provides students with monthly lectures given by STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) professionals. Mintzer is a member of the Valley High School science and knowledge bowl teams, and the Central Academy mathematics team. He is also the treasurer of Valley High School’s National Honor Society chapter.
Guowei Qi, son of Liang Qi and Shirong Yao of West Des Moines, is the concertmaster of Valley High School’s chamber orchestra. He is also a member of Valley’s science bowl team and participates in the school’s honors program. Qi volunteers at the Iowa Lutheran Hospital and organizes “Blank Tales,” a non-profit publication started by Valley High School students that raises awareness of homelessness in the Des Moines area.