Ethan Davidson, a 17-year-old Capital High School senior, achieved a perfect score of 36 on the ACT college admissions exam. Davidson, son of Erika and James Fehr, joined the few who earn this score.
According to the ACT organization, about one-tenth of 1 percent of students who take the ACT earn the top score. In 2017, of the more than 2 million graduates who took the ACT, only 2,760 achieved a composite score of 36.
“I almost jumped out of my chair when I found out,” said Davidson, recounting the moment he learned of his perfect score. He was sitting in the Capital High library when his mother messaged him asking if he had gotten his score back yet. When Davidson checked his email, he found out he had earned a perfect score. This was only his second time taking the test.
According to James, Davidson’s stepfather, the family moved to Helena from a suburb of Portland, Oregon, when Davidson was a seventh grader. “Ethan worked really hard and has been a straight-A student all throughout school,” Fehr said.
Fehr and Davidson’s mother expressed profound pride in their son’s accomplishment.
Davidson is involved in several extracurricular activities at Capital High. He is a cross country runner and co-captain of the team. However, Davidson’s true passion lies in science.
Currently, Davidson is president of Capital High’s science club. He also took part in the national Science Olympiad competition last year. Davidson, along with Elliott Pryor, a 2018 Capital High graduate, placed second in the material science category.
Davidson is also an Eagle Scout. For his Eagle Scout project, Davidson built bluebird houses, which are now placed on the edge of Nature Park in Helena.
Over the summer, Davidson worked for the Helena Parks Department as a parks maintenance laborer. He enjoyed the job and intends to spend next summer working for the city parks department again. This is the first step of Davidson’s plan after graduating next spring.
Despite his perfect ACT score, Davidson won’t immediately go to college in the fall of 2019. Instead, he wants to go on a two-year mission with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Davidson, a devout Mormon, won’t know where the mission will take him until the time comes. Regardless of the destination, he is committed to the idea of serving the church.
After going on his mission, Davidson plans to attend college. He hasn’t decided for sure what school he wants to attend, but said he is leaning toward the University of Utah. Davidson said he intends to apply to other schools, such as Stanford and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, just to see if he is accepted.
Davidson is interested in studying the fields of biotech and genetics. His love for science gives him confidence in entering that career field.
During his last year of high school, Davidson is spending his time applying for scholarships and working on his future.
“I suppose I have a bit of what some might call ‘senioritis’,” Davidson said, illustrating his desire to graduate soon.
Currently, Davidson is working on submitting an essay to become a National Merit finalist. Davidson is one of about 16,000 National Merit semifinalists across the United States. He and classmate Beatrice Pujol are two semifinalists at Capital High. Semifinalists represent less than 1 percent of high school seniors in the United States. Students are selected as National Merit semifinalists via their PSAT scores.
The National Merit Scholarship Program will trim the semifinalists down to about 7,500 students nationwide. These students will receive a National Merit Scholarship.
When not studying or working on scholarship submissions, Davidson enjoys playing video games, running, solving puzzles, crosswords, collecting quarters and watching football and basketball. He also spends time with friends and stays involved with the Capital High math and science clubs.
Davidson’s advice for future ACT takers is to take the test multiple times if possible. “I know you have to pay out-of-pocket, but take the test more than once if you can,” said Davidson. “It’s worth it because every single point counts.”