Perfect scores come easy to Cocoa student
By Meagan McGone
COCOA - Samantha "Sam" Cavallaro was pleasantly surprised when she opened her third-grade FCAT results to find a perfect score in the math portion.
And in subsequent years, she did it again and again, achieving a perfect math score for four out of five years.
"She has only missed one question ever," her mother, Beth Cavallaro, said. "And in that year, (when she was in sixth grade), she got a perfect reading score."
Now 13 and entering eighth grade at Clearlake Middle School in Cocoa, Sam already has honors Algebra I, a high-school-level class, under her belt. Next year, she will enroll in Honors Geometry.
"I really liked algebra because it's challenging, and I had a really awesome Algebra I teacher, Catherine Eadey," she said. "I also think math comes naturally to me because I have been practicing it since I was little."
She said for her, the key to success on the FCAT, which stands for the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test, is to review the material over a period of time.
"When I study more, I freak out more," she said. "I study, but I don't cram the books or anything."
In addition to math, Sam dedicates her time and talents to creative writing. In fourth grade, she scored a perfect six on the writing portion of the FCAT.
"I think writing is a really good way to express yourself without other people judging you," she said. "I just like to write whatever comes to mind."
But Beth, who is a physical education teacher Fairglen Elementary School, which Sam attended, said math has always been Sam's passion.
"Sometimes, we would turn the tables and she would quiz me," Beth said. "She started making math worksheets for me when she was 3 or 4. By her asking me the questions, she is learning at the same time."
She advised parents whose children struggle with the FCAT to get involved in their studies, to spend time working with their children, and to help children calm their nerves before the test.
Sam unwinds by partaking in her many hobbies, which include hanging out with her friends, swimming, surfing and traveling. She just returned from a family vacation in Europe and has visited Hawaii, Canada and Colorado in recent years.
As for future plans, Sam wants to pursue a career as a marine biologist at SeaWorld some day.
"I have an all-year pass," she said. "I love dolphins and sharks. I love everything about that place."
But for now, she plans to continue acing any future FCAT that comes her way.