SPOKANE, Wash. – Gonzaga Prep recently celebrated one of its students for his perfect score on a college test.
Jakob Nordhagen got every question right on the ACT, a nationwide standardized test most students take to get into college. Only about one tenth of one percent of the millions of high school students have done this.
Even more rare, Nordhagen is still a junior. The 16-year-old took the ACT to just kind of identify any weaknesses. Turns out, no weaknesses.
"At first when I saw I'm like, ‘Oh wow, I got a 36,’" he said.
"When he showed us his test he couldn't believe it. He was like, 'Dad, is this for real?' And then my husband was like, 'I think that's a sample score,'” Jakob’s mom, Ari said. " I was like that's his name right on top of it though. So, I think that's pretty much his score."
It is both real and, according to his chemistry teacher, kind of unreal.
"I've never seen that. Ever. I didn't even know it was possible," Tom Flanagan said. "The joke answer would be he was nothing before he came to me."
The real answer, Flanagan said, is that Jakob does not really need much coaxing.
"I read a lot and I'm taking a computer science class and I'm kind of dabbling in coding too," Jakob said.
While it may seem like this kid does nothing more than dabble in decimals and data, Jakob is also sharp on the soccer field. Where he really shines is in a different field entirely.
"I'm actually part of the fifth generation to work on this farm," he said.
Chickens, cows and, when the weather warms, a bounty of produce too. Running his family’s Chattaroy farm takes a lot of work from family, which includes Jakob and his three younger brothers, Andrew, 15, Caleb, 13, and Lucas, 9.
"What we're doing here is really just a continuation of the family legacy," Jakob said.
It turns out the Nordhagen family legacy includes a celebrated love story. Jakob's great-grandparents are Floyd and Margaret Nordhagen. They were filled with a love for others and for each other. Floyd was known for bragging about his wife's beauty and how lucky he was that she chose him. The two did not like to spend time apart. When Floyd could no longer push the lawnmower by himself, the two pushed it together. People who knew them knew they were witnessing a love that was almost legendary.
"And then when they passed away and people saw they were holding hands that was even more special," Ari said.
The final day of their 68-year marriage came abruptly in October 2013. Family said it was God who took Floyd and Margaret together in this crash. Their final act of love even stunned troopers who found the couple hand-in-hand in the wreckage.
"Well it's a story of love that lasts a lifetime which I think is rare these days," Ari explained.
Which is why the story of Floyd and Margaret's unbreakable bond was shared by people across the US and beyond. Something that might solely appear tragic was perhaps also a gift.
"I honestly don't know what they would have done without each other so in a way it was a blessing that they went at the same time," Ari said.
So, you see Floyd and Margaret together are woven into the fabric of their farm and woven into Jakob and his brothers too.
"I think just how good of people they were," Jakob said.
Floyd and Margaret's love of family is alive and well in Jakob who, in turn, pours his heart into the farm where bonds seem to grow stronger than steel.
Proud of the kid who has his sights set on Stanford, a school fittingly known as "The Farm." While this stunningly perfect college admissions test should help him get to that farm, much like Floyd and Margaret, Jakob will likely never linger far from this one.
“Being with my family is my favorite thing to do," Jakob said.
Perhaps that's why the Nordhagen family cultivates such beautiful eggs, perfect produce, and an extraordinary crop of people too.