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Perfection: Columbus student aces ACT test ahead of senior year

Payne Brower
Posted at 5:15 PM, Jun 19, 2024

COLUMBUS - Payne Brower, an incoming Columbus High School senior, earned a perfect ACT score after taking the test earlier this year.

Brower said he spent many hours studying for the test, using practice exams and attending an ACT prep course held in Columbus in the morning before school began.

"It was a lot of time," Brower said Wednesday morning. "I mean each of those tests are four hours so it definitely took a lot of time."

Brower said he wanted to make his practice as real as possible, so he would complete an entire test in the required time span and in one sitting.

"Making it as real as possible was important to me," Brower said. "I think it really puts you in the right mindset for whatever it is."

Brower's math and ACT prep teacher James Taft said it would be difficult to find a harder-working student in all of his years of teaching.

James Taft

"It's his work ethic that's definitely the most impressive part. He's driven," Taft said Wednesday afternoon. "He definitely wants to know what he can do to be better and he wants to do better to be the best that he can be."

Taft added that he's confident that with his natural intelligence and his incredible work ethic, Brower will accomplish a lot in his lifetime.

"I'm excited for him really," Taft said. "I think Payne has, not just the ability, but also the work ethic to do something pretty amazing with his life."

But it isn't just the classroom where Brower excels. During high school he has been a crucial part of the cross country and track and field teams in Columbus, even helping the cross country team to their first every-state trophy with a second-place finish last fall.

2nd Place Finish

"It was awesome honestly," Brower said. "We had worked really hard in the summer and next thing you know the season started and we were winning everything. It was really special to be a part of."

Brower's cross country and track coach Jennifer Crago said it's been a pleasure to coach him during his high school career.

"He is one of the most dedicated runners I've ever coached," Crago said. "He's one of those that you just love coaching because he makes it so easy."

Crago said he's been a leader for the team, both while competing and in the classroom.

"We talk about how you just have to have that good balance between school, training and doing anything else for the team," Crago said. "I never have to think twice about Payne doing that."

Jennifer Crago

Payne's parents, Dean and Nichole Brower, said they couldn't be more proud of all he's accomplished.

"He's obviously a really bright kid, but he's also a hard worker," Dean said.

"Plus he's got a great heart," Nichole added.

"Yeah, and that's the best part," Dean said. "Being a good person, I mean that's how we wanted to raise him, right?"

Both parents said Payne has always stood out, with his mom recalling his first-grade teacher calling the young boy exceptional. That's why when they found out he got a perfect score, they said it was more of a relief than a surprise.

Nichole and Dean Brower

"I wasn't surprised," Dean said. "I was excited and happy for him, but I wasn't surprised. I knew the potential was there and I saw how hard he had worked."

But ironically, when asked if he considered himself perfect, Payne's response was simple.

"No, definitely not," Brower said with a laugh. "I can always improve. I can always get smarter and I can get faster. There's always something to improve at."

Brower said he hopes the perfect 36 score on the ACT will help get him accepted into either MIT or Stanford, and he will be applying to both, among other big schools this summer.

"I think I definitely have a good chance to get into at least one or two of these big schools," Brower said. "I'll apply to a bunch and hopefully get picked."

Brower helping at the pool

For now, Brower is staying busy helping others. He currently is a lifeguard at the Columbus pool and gives swimming lessons to the youth.

Brower's parents said they are excited to see where he ends up going to school. His mother said she just wants him to be happy.

“I just want to see what he can do and what he wants to do," Nichole said. "Just like anyone else, I want him to be happy.”