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Posted on Mon, Mar 22, 2010 : 2:13 p.m.

Leah Latterner is third Pioneer student in a year to ace the ACT

By Ann Dwyer

When Leah Latterner took her ACT, she was certain she had blown it. 

The wrong building was listed on her directions. She raced over to the correct building, fearing she would be too late to take the test.

She made it in time, but in the middle of the math portion of the exam, her calculator died.

Another student might have been tempted to pack up her bags and leave at that point, but Latterner soldiered on. 

Not only did she get through the exam, she finished with a perfect score of 36. 

She is the third student from Pioneer High School in the past year to accomplish the feat.

Thumbnail image for LeahLatternerBench.JPG

Leah Latterner

Photo courtesy of Laura Latterner

"Leah is one of the most talented, enthusiastic and inspiring students I've taught in 14 years. She is one of those rare students whose presence in a classroom raises the bar for everyone, including the teacher,” English teacher Sean Sabo said.

The fact that Latterner got through the math portion of the test without her calculator is a testament to her love of the subject. Early this year, she attended a math conference in Nebraska for undergraduate women. 

“It was really fun. I learned a lot,” Latterner said.

At this point, Latterner said she's fairly certain she'll major in math in college. Not so certain is which college she'll attend. 

Latterner has already been accepted to Yale and the University of Michigan, and there is a third school she has not heard from yet.

Latterner said she also may double major in music. Regardless, music will remain an important part of her life. It has meant so much to her that she created the Musicians United to Serve in the Community (MUSIC) club. The club tours places such as hospitals and nursing homes performing concerts.

“It’s been a very rewarding club experience, I think. I haven’t really seen how music can influence other people as much as I have when I was in the club and doing these concerts and things. They love it, and we love it,” Latterner said.

Spencer Johnson, who also earned a perfect ACT score, is in the club. Like Johnson, Latterner has a relaxed take on the infamous exam and other standardized tests.

“You shouldn’t stress that much over them. They’re not going to be the end of you and your application,” she said.

Ann Dwyer can be reached at


Leah Latterner

Tue, Mar 23, 2010 : 9:16 p.m.

Wow, thank you, everyone! I am so flattered. As far as credit goes, I have had incredible academic opportunities available to me throughout my life. Of course, my parents have made a huge impact on me; they've given me the drive to pursue what I love and to work to the best of my abilities (providing me with plenty of encouragement along the way). I have also had the privilege of studying under some amazing teachers at Dicken, Slauson, Emerson, Pioneer, and the UM. Although I've definitely had to work hard, it was these people that helped make the work worthwhile! Thanks, Dylan, for the concerto concert plug! I hope many can attend; it's going to be a great show! And, of course, "Peacock"! It has been such a long time. I still remember how excited I would be before craft time each Wednesday night...Thank you for always being so loving and encouraging. Many thanks, too, for the kind words - again, I'm so flattered! - Leah L.


Tue, Mar 23, 2010 : 9:15 a.m.

Congratulations Leah! I always knew you were a bright and creative girl. And what a beautiful young lady you have grown up to be! As God is blessing your "present" may He bless your "future"! Love, Peacock


Tue, Mar 23, 2010 : 6:56 a.m.

Hey everybody, this is Dylan, a friend of Leah's from school. If you want to see the other side of Leah you should come and attend Pioneer's annual Concerto Concert this Thursday night - it features eight wonderful soloists accompanied by the Pioneer Symphony Orchestra (of which I am a member). Leah will be performing the Prokofiev Piano Concerto no. 3.

David Briegel

Mon, Mar 22, 2010 : 6:48 p.m.

What a wonderful young person with a brilliant future! Leah, who do you credit? Obviously great parenting! And a lot of hard work and initiative!


Mon, Mar 22, 2010 : 6:39 p.m.

She sounds like a great kid! It is really nice to read a story like this after so many articles that aren't so inspiring. Good job Leah!


Mon, Mar 22, 2010 : 4:44 p.m.

Extremely impressive! Many congratulations Leah! It never ceases to amaze me how talented many of the local students are.


Mon, Mar 22, 2010 : 2:36 p.m.

Good job Leah! Great to see this kind of achievement coming from an AAPS student.


Mon, Mar 22, 2010 : 2:08 p.m.


Matt Cooper

Mon, Mar 22, 2010 : 1:44 p.m.

Go girl!!!