Campbell column: Myka Perusek is ahead of the curve

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 12, 2012

KANNAPOLIS — When Myka Perusek begins her senior year at A.L. Brown High School, she’ll be ahead of her classmates.
She knocked out Advanced Placement calculus, a class many students take as seniors, her sophomore year and wrapped up AP statistics last year.
And she’s completed all four levels of Chinese.
Now that’s motivation. But it seems she’s always been that way.
Perusek has been a grade level ahead of her peers since she skipped second grade at Royal Oaks Elementary. And when she still wasn’t being challenged enough, a teacher recommended sending her to a charter school.
Her parents enrolled in the Metrolina Regional Scholars’ Academy in Charlotte her fourth-grade year. She stayed there through eighth grade, the school’s highest grade level.
The scholars’ academy has high standards.
In order to be automatically eligible for admission at the school, students need an IQ score at least three standard deviations above the mean score of 100.
At the school, Perusek finished algebra, geometry, algebra II, biology and world history, courses typically taken during high school.
“I had no freshmen classes to take except for English,” she said.
Perusek, the junior class chief marshal, took two AP classes her sophomore year and completed four last year.
She already has enough credits to graduate, but she’ll stick around for her senior year.
“I want to take advantage of more classes and activities,” she said.
Applying for college should be a cinch for Perusek. She scored almost perfect on the ACT test, a 35 out of 36. The college admission test including English, math, reading and science.
She got all of the reading questions rights and only missed a perfect mark on the math portion by one point.
“I was thrilled because I definitely wasn’t expecting to do so well,” she said.
Perusek admits she doesn’t spend a lot of time studying, which I imagine makes her friends a bit jealous.
“I was gifted with a photographic memory, so it comes naturally,” she said.
And her parents, Sherrie and Jim Perusek, don’t push academics on her, but they do encourage her to do well.
“They’ve worked with me since I was a baby to learn and to apply myself,” Perusek said. “They’ve been really good about helping to show me what I’m capable of.”
But Perusek isn’t just a brainiac.
She plays sports year-round, including volleyball, swimming and track.
Perusek is also an active member of A.L. Brown’s environmental club, Health Occupations Students of America, BETA club, National Honor Society and LINK crew, a group that helps run freshman orientation.
She also lends a hand with Snack Pack, a school group that gives out snacks to students who receive free or reduced lunch.
The organization she’s most proud to be part of is the one she founded, Students Supporting Our Troops.
“I started it because both my parents are in the Army and my aunt and uncle are both in the Air Force,” she said. “It’s kind of near and dear to my heart.”
The group gathers supplies to send to the troops through the United Service Organizations (USO) at Charlotte Douglas International Airport.
After graduation, Perusek plans to pursue physical therapy or attend medical school.
“It’s changed like four times,” she said. “Right now, the top college on my list is Davidson. I really don’t want to be too far away because I would like to be able to come home if I need to.”
I have a feeling this won’t be the last time we’ll hear about her, no matter what she decides to do or where she opts to go to college.
Perusek said her academic and extracurricular achievements have given her a confidence boost, but she remains humble.
“I feel like I have a better chance at getting into college and getting scholarships,” she said. “That’s all that matters.”
With a record like hers, I’d say she’s right.
Sarah Campbell covers education for the Post.