| The Daily Herald
Keyton Kodatt, a junior at Columbia Academy private school, knows the next chapter of his life is just a few short months away, and he has set a firm foundation of success through academic rigor and perseverance.
The teenager’s promising young future was made even more apparent when he accomplished his longtime goal of scoring a “perfect” composite score of 36 on the ACT college admissions exam.
“It was really surreal and an eye-opening reminder that college is just around the corner,” Kodatt told The Daily Herald. “It made me realize that there is more to come very soon that I am super excited about.”
Plus, his hard work and focus during his academic career has paid off.
Last October, Kodatt took the exam that earned him a perfect score at Summertown High School in neighboring Lawrence County. He missed just four questions on the more than three-hour-long test that examines a student’s abilities in English, mathematics, reading, and scientific reasoning.
When he had the results in hand weeks later, Kodatt said a feeling of relief initially come over him.
In eighth grade, Kodatt took the ACT earning a score of 25. He then returned to take the exam and earned a 35 in high school before finally achieving the perfect score.
“It was surreal that it finally happened,” Kodatt said, who prepared for the test both in school with support from school staff and at home where he drilled himself on the test material in his own time.
“I have been going after it for a while,” Kodatt added. “It was the culmination of a lot of years of hard work. I have always taken school very seriously, so it feels that this was a result of that and a relief that my work had paid off.
“I was really excited. I think the first thing I did was text my mom.
“It was good to finally accomplish it, and I am really just optimistic about the future more than anything.”
Sight set on the future
With the highest score attainable under his belt, Kodatt is now moving his attention to the SAT exam and diving deep into the college admissions process as a member of the Class of 2022.
“I am just kind of relieved to have it so I can look into colleges,” Kodatt said.
Kodatt has his eyes set on either the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of Chicago or Columbia University in New York where he plans to study molecular engineering or law.
As he continues to consider his options for college, he will attend the Tennessee Governor’s School this summer before starting his final year at Columbia Academy.
After taking the SAT, he hopes to be named a National Merit Scholar, an academic competition for recognition and scholarships pursued by 1.5 million high school students each year.
“I am super excited to go into senior year,” Kodatt said. “In general, I hope that it will get me a good scholarship and an education without having to worry about that cost barrier. It is absolutely worth putting in that work.”
A longtime student at Columbia Academy, Kodatt has maintained a deep interest in the sciences.
As a middle and elementary school student, Kodatt would visit the upper school science wing under the guidance of Dr. Barry Farris, the school’s chemistry, calculus and physics teacher.
Exposure to the sciences helped foster curiosity and problem-solving skills.
“I think more than anything, I like the problem solving aspect of science. That is why I gravitate more towards physics than chemistry. I love being able to approach something, knowing there is not a set way to do it.”
A planner with a can-do spirit
Kodatt’s father John Kodatt, a Columbia Academy educator who serves as the director of the school’s basketball operations, said both he and his wife Tammy Kodatt are not surprised by their son’s accomplishment.
“He is very talented academically, but he takes it seriously,” John Kodatt said. “He has been all about academics ever since he was in elementary school. It is something he really desires to do well. He enjoys it. He treats it like a game. He has a natural gift but he works at it. He just constantly wants to be challenged in the classroom. He is very competitive with his academics. We have pretty much run out of classes for him at CA.”
Kodatt celebrates his son’s independence and self sufficiency as a young man.
“He has got a plan,” Kodatt said. “We have not lifted a finger to do any of his stuff. He has filled out applications. He is just on top of things. He is very organized.”
Outside of the classroom, Keyton Kodatt is working with Columbia Mayor Chaz Molder to establish a student-led advisory board, an initiative that was sparked when Kodatt first approached Molder with the hope of interning with the city of Columbia.
He is also an active member of the school’s mock trial team, student government and a competitive tennis player.
“I don’t think I would be where I am without Columbia Academy,” Kodatt said. “Even if it was not work toward the ACT test itself, I think academic rigor has played a very big role , and it came as a corollary to that work.”
Students at Columbia Academy begin taking a practice ACT test called “ACT Aspire” in the third grade in preparation for the formal college entry exam.
The private school touts itself as the only institution in Maury County to administer the ACT to high school sophomores.
In preparation for the college entry exam, Columbia Academy offers an ACT training camp to its students.
He said that increasing performance on the ACT can be attained, but for any student to do so successfully requires time and perseverance.
“Even if you don’t see that extreme growth in the beginning. That time and reputation really does pay off, and it puts you in a mindset of success. It is possible for any student, who puts the work into it. It is not an unachievable goal like some people view it.”
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by WCT staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)