While most graduating high school seniors are gearing up to take (or retake) the SAT, Foster Birnbaum can breathe easy.


Birnbaum, a junior at West Anchorage High School, achieved a perfect 2400 on the SAT. He says seeing the score over winter break was “the perfect Christmas gift.”


A few years ago, Birnbaum says his older brother did well on the college-admission exam, so the pressure was on for him to perform as well.


“Of course, you know, there are expectations — if I get over a certain score, I’m going to be happy,” Birnbaum said of his mindset before seeing the score. “And then to get this was just unbelievable. And my whole family was there. We were all waiting for it to pop up online.”


The Anchorage teen says his future field of choice will be one of the sciences; he’s strongly considering both biology and physics. In the meantime, he spends some time volunteering at a lab at the University of Alaska Anchorage.


When it comes to universities, Birnbaum has a message for the ones he’s set his sights on: “If Stanford is watching, then I want to go to Stanford. If MIT is watching, then I love MIT. Harvard and Cal Tech, don’t worry guys, I’m not forgetting you either,” he said jokingly.


But on a serious note, Birnbaum says he’d be happy to land “anywhere with great research opportunities where I’d have the option to really explore my STEM interests.”


Birnbaum says a perfect SAT score looks good on paper, but it’s not the only thing he has going for him.


“I know it’s great, 2400 is the best you can do … But I don’t let a test define me,” he said. “I have plenty of other things I like to do.”


Those activities include playing cello in the Anchorage Youth Symphony, participating in the debate team and Model United Nations.


As a product of the Anchorage School District — Rogers Park Elementary School, Romig Middle School and now West High — Birnbaum attributes his success as a student to the teachers and counselors who’ve watched him grow. He even gave a personal shout-out to his high school counselor, Johanna Utterback, who calls Birnbaum “the whole shebang.”


“He’s generous, and he’s really dependable,” said Utterback. “He’s kind to everyone. He’s offered to tutor people … He’s just kind of an all-around fine person.”


After getting everything he wanted for Christmas, Birnbaum says he’ll keep doing what he’s been doing in Anchorage — and he’ll wait for the colleges and universities to come calling.


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