Josh Wende has pitched a perfect game. Academically speaking, that is.
The Half Hollow Hills West varsity baseball player has accomplished something even better than the toughest feat on the diamond. He managed perfect scores on both his SAT and ACT college admission tests. How's that for retiring the side in order?
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"I was pleased," he said. "I was happy. I wasn't expecting perfect scores, but I wasn't shocked."
Contrast that with Josh's mother, Debbie.
"I was floored," she said. "I absolutely expected him to do well, but I did not expect this."
The 18-year-old senior's love for learning is in line with his love for baseball, and his love for baseball is in line with his love for pretty much every endeavor he takes on.
"I enjoy [baseball] but I try to enjoy all aspects of my life," said Wende, of Dix Hills, the team's starting leftfielder. "I try not to inundate myself with schoolwork . . . I love baseball, but I try to love everything."
Wende, who has a 98.7 weighted grade average and plans to attend Dartmouth College, said he did almost no test prep and took each test twice.
He scored a 2230 out of 2400 on the SAT the first time and 35 out of 36 on the ACT.
Wanted to do better
He wasn't spurred by perfect-score ambition, he said, but merely the knowledge that he could do better.
He aced both tests the second time around. Wende said he only conferred with a teacher twice after taking the SAT the first time to see how he could beef up his essay.
He is one of two Hills West seniors to achieve dual perfect scores this school year -- Rose Bender, the valedictorian, is the other.
Among the more than 1.6 million students in the Class of 2014 to take the SAT nationally, only 583, or 3.6 hundredths of 1 percent, received a perfect score, according to the College Board, which runs the test. New York students were responsible for 42 of those perfect scores.
Wende said it was slightly easier to achieve a perfect score in the ACT, since the grade can be rounded up. In the 2014 graduating class, 1.85 million took the test and 1,407, or 7.6 hundredths of 1 percent, earned a top score, a spokeswoman for ACT said.
Seventy-three of the 54,496 students to take the test in New York achieved a perfect score. "It's less than 1 percent," the spokeswoman said. "And that's been pretty stable year to year even though the number of people who have taken the test has gone up steadily."
Class of 2015 data will be available in August, so by the time Wende finds out how much company he has in the pantheon of perfect scores, he'll be preparing for a life of even higher learning. What he'll be learning, though, remains a mystery. One of the effects of loving to learn about everything is not being quite sure what to home in on.
"I don't want to go into medicine or law," he said. "It's not that I can't do it, but I don't want to . . . I've always loved reading books, but I don't think I want to be an English major.
"I'm pretty much completely undecided."
He might keep playing baseball, he said, but only recreationally.
"I could see him do it all," said Maria Goldin, his high school guidance counselor. "Nothing really surprises me with him. He's a great kid, he's really, really smart, he loves to learn and he finds every topic interesting."
Ivy League visit
Wende recently visited Dartmouth and sat in on three classes: history of Islam, introduction to astronomy, and international economics. He was fascinated by all three, he said. He said he is currently taking six advanced classes (including art history, just for fun).
Wende has been on the varsity baseball team since being called up for the playoffs as a 10th-grader. Around three times a week, on game days, he doesn't get home until about 7 p.m. This year, he hit .346, with eight doubles, and struck out only eight times.
"You can see in his personality," coach Tom Migliozzi said. "Something only has to be said once and Josh understands it, whether it's an adjustment on defense or anything else."
It's a lot to balance, but he seems to do it with ease -- squeezing in schoolwork during the day. He says he tries to pay attention in class so he doesn't have to study for tests.
He told one classmate about his dual perfect scores, he said, and in a few hours, it was all over the school.
"He's always done so well on all those standardized tests . . . all those ELA tests," said his mom, who is an optometrist. "But this is incredible."
Her teenage son scoffs affectionately at her incredulity, as teenagers are wont to do. "But mom," he said in a gently mocking tone, "I'm your little boy. I'm perfect!"
He's joking, but as far as test scores go, it's perfectly true.