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Seventh-grader at Canterbury shines on nationwide test

By Staff | May 14, 2009

A Cape Coral student from Canterbury School received a perfect score on a national foreign language exam taken by thousands of students.
Seventh-grader Calvin Thomas made no mistakes on the National French Contest, and the school recently received a plaque from the American Association of Teachers of French to commemorate his achievement.
The one-hour standardized test was administered to a total of 7,928 students across the nation and only six earned a perfect score.
Thomas is one of two Florida students to make no mistakes.
During the 70-question exam, students are tested on grammar, reading comprehension and listening skills.
Kathryn Wilbur, French teacher at Canterbury School, explained that students are given the test and handed a compact disc for the listening portion. An understanding of French culture and geography is also integrated into the test.
“Calvin is a gifted student,” said Wilbur. “He worked for this achievement. He was determined to get a perfect score and took many practice tests to prepare for the exam.”
Taking the test is not a requirement for French students, she said. Since Wilbur began administering the test in 1988, only 30 out of approximately 150 students in the program have opted to take it.
“It’s excellent practice for standardized tests like the SAT II, for example,” she said.
The test was administered in March, and months before that Thomas borrowed copies of old exams from Wilbur. He would complete the tests at home and go to Wilbur with any questions he had on the material.
“He did about six former tests, and if he had a question he would come to me,” she said.
Thomas found that at the end of each practice test he made one or two mistakes, but he was determined to receive a perfect score.
Thomas was shocked when the school was contacted about his accomplishment.
“I was really pleased to hear that, and I was happy because I had to put in all of that hard work,” he said.
Originally born in Germany, Thomas also speaks German and English. He enjoys French because he can talk to other people and learn the customs in different cultures and countries.
“It’s different from math because you can be more creative,” Thomas said. “It’s something you can use, it’s all over the world.”
Other students from Canterbury also took the test and ranked on the national level, including junior Heidi Doxy, sophomores Zach Leatherman and Carl Nist-Lund, freshman Mariela Hernandez and eighth-graders Alexandra Gerberick, Peri Shamlian and Haley Leatherman.