PATERSON, NJ – Thenvir Aklakh is a young man with confidence. And why not? On Wednesday night, the seventh grader at Don Bosco Academy was one of 132 city students honored by Paterson Public Schools for getting perfect scores this year on one of the New Jersey Assessment of Skills and Knowledge tests.
But getting a perfect score was nothing unusual for Thenvir. He’s done it before. This is the fourth straight year in which he has accomplished that. Thenvir seems to take perfection in stride.
“You have to always pay attention in class,’’ said the 12-year-old, when asked how he managed his achievement. “It doesn’t cost anything to pay attention in class. You always have to do your homework because homework is an extension of what you’re learning in class.’’
Thenvir was one of four Paterson students who have had perfect scores in four consecutive years in the NJ ASK math section. The others are Randy Estrella, an eighth grader at New Roberto Clemente School; Darwin Torres Romero, a seventh grader at School 18; and Mohammed Ammar, a seventh grader at School 9.
Three more students have gotten perfect math scores three years in a row and 19 others have had perfect scores in at least one of the three test subjects for the past two years.
“Tonight is a special celebration of academic achievement, and I am extremely proud of these young students,” said Donnie Evans, Paterson’s state-appointed schools superintendent. “By setting high expectations for all of our students and our staff, we are realizing significant academic outcomes across the district. We remain steadfast on our mission to prepare every child for success in the college and career of their choosing.”
The number of Paterson students getting perfect scores on one of the three NJ ASK sections in tests taken during the spring increased by about 17 percent compared to last year. There were 105 children in grades 3 through eight who did it in math, 16 in science and 14 in writing.
Three of them did it in both math and science: Fabeha Chowdhury, a fifth grader at School 5 who attended School 19 last year; Angel Leonor, a fifth grader at School 24; and Maximus Beauchamp, a fifth grader at the Gifted and Talented Academy . Here’s the district’s list of students with perfect scores:
“You have kicked the door in,’’ Mayor Jeffrey Jones told the students at Wednesday’s ceremony. “You have made tomorrow all the more promising and I’m proud.’’
“We were shaking hands with future doctors, future lawyers and future judges,’’ said school board member Corey Teague.
“What this says is our kids in Paterson can learn,’’ said board member Errol Kerr.
Indeed, the celebration of academic perfection took on special meaning in Paterson, where average student test scores and graduation rates lag far behind those of the rest of the state. Poor student achievement is one of the reasons the state has retained control of the Paterson school district for the past two decades.
Kerr said that in a district with more than 29,000 students, he would like to see the number of perfect score celebrants be higher. “Sometimes we get caught up in something and we forget there’s more work to be done,’’ Kerr said.
Norissa Howell hasn’t forgotten that. In the past two years at Norman W. Weir School, she reached perfect scores. Over the summer, when Paterson launched its new Gifted and Talented Academy, she applied and was accepted. It’s been more work and more demanding than her previous school, she said. But she doesn’t regret taking on the challenge. “It’s good for you,’’ she said.
Norissa said her parents have always been supportive of her education and were excited when she achieved her perfect scores. “They were jumping up and down,’’ she said. Literally? “They’re crazy like that,’’ she explained.
Thanvir said his parents also were a major reason behind his perfect scores. His father, Mdishaque Ali, and his mother, Kawser Parvin, both work as substitute teachers in Paterson. Ali said he was a top-notch student in his youth. “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree,’’ said young Thanvir, beaming with pride.
Thanvir had attended School 9 the past four school years when he achieved his perfect scores. He was part of the school’s team that won the citywide Math Olympics last June. “Math has given me a lot of rewards,’’ he said. “I won an iPad in the Math Olympic and brought victory to my school.’’
Thanvir hopes to follow his affinity for math to a career in investment finance. For now, he’s hitting the books to put himself in position to get a perfect score for a fifth straight year. “Sometimes my teachers don’t want me to answer the questions to give somebody else a chance,’’ he said.
The students who had perfect scores for three straight years were:
Ahmed Abuharthieh, 5th grader at the Gifted and Talented Academy who attended School 9 when he achieved his perfect scores
Sarah Alibrahimi, a freshman who attends high school outside Paterson who attended School 9 when she achieved his perfect scores
Ilirida Baftiri, a sixth grader at school 9
Those with perfect score the past two years were:
Mohammed Abdulazeez, a fifth grader at the Gifted and Talent Academy who was at School 9 when he achieved his perfect scores
Anas Abu Assi, a freshman at International High School who was at School 9 when he achieved his perfect scores
Albana Baftiri, a sixth grader at School 9
Akira Brown, a seventh grader at Don Bosco Academy who attended School 5 when Akira achieved the perfect scores
Jonas Cedano, a sixth grader at the Gifted and Talented Academy
Emily Cruz, a fifth grader at the Gifted and Talented Academy who was at Kilpatrick school when she achievd her perfct scores
Anik Deb, a freshman at a high school outside Paterson who was at School 5 when he achieved his perfect scores
Jesus Delgado, a fifth grader at School 19 who was at School 5 when he achieved his perfect scores
Montanasi Enix, a fifth grader at School 2
Aliviyah Goodson, a sixth grader at School 10
Norissa Howell, a sixth grader at the Gifted and Talented Academy who was at Weir school when she achieved her perfect scores
Shahin Hussain, a freshman at a high school outside Paterson who was at School 7 when he achieved his perfect scores
Youseff Khalil, a fifth grader at School 9
Alexis Latorre, a sixth grader at School 27
Angel Leonor, a fifth grader at School 24
Veronica Montanez, a seventh grader at School 25
Pedro Rodriguez, a fifth grader at the Gifted and Talented Academy
Jorge Villar, a seventh grader at School 24
Brianna Watts, a sixth grader at the Gifted and Talented Academy