“I love learning,” said William Woodward, and learn he has! William, who is a senior at Central High School and the Massanutten Regional Governor’s School (MRGS), earned perfect scores (36/36) on both ACT Reading and ACT Science and an almost perfect score (35/36) on ACT English. Thirty-six is the highest possible score on all ACT tests. For the last five years, 99 percent of students who took the ACT scored below 34 meaning only 1 percent earned scores of 34, 35, or 36. William is among that elite group.
William’s academic laurels continue beyond the ACT, which is a college admissions test that measures what students have learned in high school to determine their academic readiness for college. He has also been named an AP Scholar because he earned scores of 5 (highest possible score) on Biology, Calculus, and US Government Advanced Placement tests. Since the tenth grade, William has taken courses at Lord Fairfax Community College and has earned more than 80 credits. In May 2017, he will receive an Associates of Applied Science Degree from Lord Fairfax Community College,which makes him a Governor’s Scholar. A member of Central’s Academic Team for the last three years, William has also been a member of the National Honor Society for both his junior and senior years. During all four years of high school, he has earned a spot on the all-A honor roll and currently holds a 4.5 Grade Point Average. He will graduate from Central HS in June with an Advanced Diploma.
For many teachers, William ranks among -- or is -- the best student they have taught. “He is the bar against which I will measure students in the future,” said Eric Snyder, William’s Western Civilization teacher at Central High School.
Holly Sheffield, who was the Assistant Principal at Peter Muhlenberg Middle School when William was a student there, wrote, “We noticed at PMMS the aptitude he was showing especially in the area of science. His answers were so enlightened and well beyond his years that we felt not accelerating him would be a disservice. William took the PSAT that year as part of the Talent Search process and scored well above most tenth graders even though he had received no formal instruction on much of the math on the test. We worked with his seventh grade teachers and CHS to have him finish his Grade 7 materials before the end of the first semester and then during second semester, he took two core classes at CHS. He essentially skipped all of Grade 8 and launched what would become an amazingly successful high school academic career. He is one of the most articulate and well written young men you could meet and his desire to succeed will allow him to do whatever he wishes in life.”
Kara Bates, Agro-Ecology teacher at the Governor’s School wrote, “William has become one of the most valuable students at MRGS, and he is a role model for his classmates. He is highly creative and possesses an intellectual curiosity that never ceases to amaze me. William is one of the most intelligent, gifted students that I have ever encountered. His ability to reason and analyze a myriad of situations is unparalleled. I am so proud of William, and I consider it a blessing that he is one of my students.”
William himself has strong praise for Shenandoah County teachers. “I would love to list all of my teachers, who have been wonderful and have helped me advance my academic career,” he wrote. Especially, he is grateful that he was the student of Eric Snyder (History, CHS), Daniel Morgan (Earth Science, CHS); Dr. Michelle Crotteau (English, MRGS) and Kara Bates (Agro-Ecology, MRGS).
William is also grateful for those who “guided his academic path” and helped him enroll in the classes he needed including Holly Sheffield (Supervisor of Special Education, SCPS), Sherri Jarrett (GATE, PMMS), Susan Fream (Director, MRGS), and Rachel Webb (Guidance Counselor CHS).
All MRGS students are required to complete research projects during both their junior and senior years. These projects must strictly adhere to the scientific method and must follow the protocol required for research projects on at least the collegiate, if not the graduate level, of research and documentation.
William explained that for his junior year project, he and two of his Governor’s School peers worked with their mentor, Kara Bates “to develop and test methods which could be employed in ponds around the Shenandoah Valley for studying amphibian populations; we focused primarily on salamanders, however. The task of last year was not so much to actually determine the salamander populations of various ponds as it was to figure how interested parties should go about surveying salamander populations.”
William pursued a number of potential research projects for his senior year but kept hitting dead-ends. Finally, he and Ms. Bates, once again his research mentor, discussed the idea of pursuing a point-of-use water filter and purification device.
“The goal of this year's project,” said William, is to develop a water filter that could be produced cheaply and with sustainable methods. These water filters would be used by families and individuals in underdeveloped or rural regions of the world. Obviously, low-cost would be a requirement, but, effectiveness and efficiency are also necessary considerations. You wouldn't want for example, a family to have to wait three days for a liter of water to pass through the filter.”
William’s senior project is still in the research phase. During a review of publications from Gadgil Labs (at the University of Berkley in California), he found that coal-ash treated with certain chemicals can be used as a filter material. Coal-ash, a waste product of coal-fired power plants, is abundant in certain developing regions of the world and is an extremely cheap substance. In general, “coal-ash,” wrote William, “serves much the same role that activated carbon does in traditional water filters, though it plays the specific role of removing large amounts of arsenic from contaminated water, and outperforms activated carbon in terms of arsenic removal." William hopes to build a prototype of his filter, which will probably use coal-ash, by February or March 2017.
In addition to academic strength, Ms. Bates noted that William is a leader and a gentleman. She wrote, “He has an excellent ability to work cooperatively and meaningfully in groups. In every group project, William has shown that he is a natural leader. He not only contributes original ideas to the group, he is also a hard worker that is highly motivated. He has shown a willingness to accept the ideas of others, and he respects their views and opinions, even if they differ from his own. William is very cooperative, and he is well liked by his peers. He also shows openness to new and diverse situations.”
William enjoys all of his classes but especially enjoys the sciences and will probably, though he is not at all certain, major in biology/biochemistry in college. He has applied to six different colleges, but he has not decided which college he will attend. Certainly, he will be accepted at all six schools.
In his spare time, William reads, plays video games, and spends time with this family. “I read all the time,” said William, “I read anything that I can learn from.” As a child, William especially liked to read non-fiction. Currently, he reads mainly articles from scientific journals. If he had to name a favorite book, it would be The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins.
William is the son of very proud parents, Norma and William Woodward II of Maurertown, Virginia. “I just wanted to say, “wrote Ms. Woodward speaking for herself and William’s father, “that besides being a good student, and his desire to learn and understand new information constantly, William has a big heart and enjoys helping others. He has wonderful character traits such as honesty, loyalty, and compassion. He holds true to his values. He is a gentleman. We are so proud of all of this.”
Congratulations, William Kenneth Woodward, III !!