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Brianna McNamee Emerges From Tough Year with Flawless ACT

The 17-year-old incoming senior at Lyons Township High School missed a month of her junior year battling sickness yet became one of eight at LTHS to earn a perfect 36 mark.

Her father hoped his daughter could relax this summer. But, that's just not Brianna McNamee.

"I love to be involved, to always be doing something," she said.

She spent the weekend at Lollapolooza, the music festival in Chicago. Today, she's in Wisconsin, beginning her week as a leader at a camp for children with Crohn's disease.

During the school year, the 17-year-old of Indian Head Park works to maintain her rank in the top 2 percent of her class at Lyons Township High School, 100 S. Brainard Ave., while cheerleading, running track and working at a clothing store.

In February, she scored a 33 on the ACT, a college entrance exam—a great score her father said he was extremely happy with and proud of her for achieving. Once again, he thought she could take a break from academia, relax. 

But McNamee had other plans.

"I've got nothing to lose," she told her father. 

She proceeded to again take the 215-question test on the subjects of English, math, science and reading, and scored 34; then one more time, resulting in a perfect 36.

McNamee cried when she and her father heard the news of the error-free mark, which made her one of eight LTHS students to earn a 36 this year.

"I was overwhelmed and very excited and very shocked," she said.

The moment held greater significance for McNamee and her family—her father, mother and older sister—because she had missed a month of junior year due to weakness from symptoms of and medication treating Crohn's disease, which she was diagnosed with about two years ago.

"I'm so proud of her," said her father, Bill McNamee. "She does not let it get her down."

Last year, during a trip with other youth to Costa Rica, during the worst points of her disease—which is an inflamation of the intestines causing sharp stomach pain, cramping, and weakness due to anemia—she made up her mind:

"I just decided it wasn't going to define me," she said. "I didn't get it until I was 15—I already am who I am."

McNamee, who ranks at number 21 out of approximately 938 students at Lyons Township High School, said she's considering Harvard University, Stanford University, Brown University, as well as several other schools, but has not decided on a major. 

McNamee has worked for the past two years at Justice, a girls clothing store in Burr Ridge; has been a cheerleader for two years at LTHS and a member of the poms team for two years. In her freetime she likes to read and create friendship bracelets.

McNamee joins a select few to achieve perfection on the ACT. In 2009, less than one-tenth of one percent of the 1.4 million students who took the ACT scored 36, according to the ACT official Website.

Seven other Lyons Township High School students produced perfect ACT scores in spring 2010—five have contacted La Grange Patch and have appeared in articles. Three have not contacted La Grange Patch, and the school has not released their names.

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