Across the nation, only one-tenth of 1 percent of all students who take the ACT test earns the highest possible score of 36, and current Brother Rice High School junior Mick Arundel did so on his first attempt. The son of Mike and Marla Arundel of Oak Lawn, Mick graduated from St. Catherine of Alexandria before choosing Brother Rice, and he attributes his success to his parents’ support and the preparation he has received at both schools.
“When I was little, my parents pushed me a lot, but now they are more lenient and trust me to take care of business,” says Mick. “Brother Rice is challenging, and the teachers here hold us all accountable, but I stay ahead of my work so nothing piles up.”
When Mick received his ACT score, his initial reaction was one of surprise. “I was kind of shocked. I didn’t think I’d get a 36 my first time,” Mick remembers. “I was happy I was one and done.”
But then, his “entrepreneurial spirit” took over, as Mick’s father, Brother Rice 1987 graduate Mike Arundel, relates:
“Mick saw the score electronically while he was at school, and he’s been bugging me for a car, so on his lunch break, he takes a screenshot and texts it to me with the message, ‘Can we talk about that Tesla now?’ I was obviously thrilled, but I just texted back, ‘Congrats! You can buy that Tesla as soon as you can afford it!’”
With the accelerated pace that Mick is on, that may come sooner rather than later.
When he was in 6th grade at St. Catherine’s, Mick and another student had “their own math class,” so they would continue to be challenged. By 7th grade, the fact that Mick had “outgrown” his math class became so obvious to his teacher that he and his parents set up a meeting with Brother Rice math teacher and Division Chair Mr. Denis Bergstedt about Mick’s options.
“Mr. Bergstedt was very accommodating, and he seemed to understand what Mick could do right away.” Mick’s father says. “He suggested that as an eighth-grader, Mick enroll in a first period Algebra II-Trigonometry class with the freshmen at Brother Rice. Obviously, St. Catherine’s had to be on board with it, too. The flexibility Mick had and the success Mick achieved under Mr. Bergstedt helped seal the deal that Brother Rice was the best choice.”
“Mick just does what he does, and he has a high personal standard. He is down-to-earth about his accomplishments,” says Mr. Bergstedt.
Eventually, though, after his sophomore year, Mick “ran out of math” at Brother Rice, too, having taken Advanced Geometry-H as a freshman and Calculus BC as a sophomore. This year, as a junior, he takes college-level Calculus III at St. Xavier on Monday and Wednesday mornings, and he’ll be back at St. Xavier next year as well, taking more math classes.
Mick plans to major in engineering and minor in math once he graduates from Brother Rice, but, as of yet, he is undecided about where he will attend, setting his sights on MIT, or perhaps Stanford or Harvard, where “everyone gets a 36.”
Still, it’s more than an ACT score and a number one class rank that defines Mick, who is very active athletically and socially at Brother Rice. Mick plays on the basketball team and participates in the Robotics Club, Politics Club, and Advocacy Club, as well as serving as Junior VP of the National Honor Society and as a member of Student Council. He is also involved in rebooting the Stocks and Investment Club and in the formation of a new project called the Microlending Club, where, according to Mick, “Students raise money and lend it to borrowers in third world countries. These aren’t donations; they are loans. There are a lot of proud people who don’t want handouts, just the chance to get a business started. The payback rate is like 99%, much higher than loans someone might get around here. We are looking at our options as we start this club, which can lend a lot of support to those who wouldn’t otherwise have a chance.”
Given the help Mick is willing to lend through endeavors such as the Microlending Club, what type of advice would he offer to others preparing to take the ACT?
“Practice. Take as many challenging classes as you can. Don’t be intimidated. Listen to and learn from your teachers. Most importantly, remember that one score will never define you.”
Now there’s a Brother Rice Crusader who follows his own advice. Congratulations, Mick!