Angela Swartz/Daily Journal
Mills High School graduate Grant Murphy spent the first two days after hearing about the test scores invalidations studying until he heard it could jeopardize challenging the College Board.
Grant Murphy was just like any other recently graduated high school student getting ready for college. Savoring final days with friends, preparing for this college cross country career and taking a summer college preparation course. But this all changed when he learned the College Board decided to invalidate the Advanced Placement test scores from this past spring at his high school, Mills in Millbrae, due to seating irregularities.
Now, Murphy, 18, is dedicating much of his time to helping with the community effort to retrieve these scores. Meetings, conference calls with politicians and researching similar past cases now fill his days.
“I just want my scores back,” said Hillsborough resident Murphy, who only recently moved out of Burlingame, which is why he attended Mills. He lives with his stay-at-home mom, younger sister, dad and their 9-year-old dog Dolce.
Rewind back to this spring and Murphy could be found spending about an hour a day studying for each of his three AP tests in the final weeks leading up to the exams. Murphy said this doesn’t take into account the months of work assignments and prep tests leading up to the official test days.
“AP tests are unlike any other tests,” Murphy said. “They’re detail-oriented and you’re being graded against other AP students. You’re also taking them to get college credit.”
Murphy took the AP economics, AP government and politics and AP biology exams and hoped these would help him graduate from college on time. He fears not having the scores could cost him thousands of dollars extra that the AP credit would have covered. At Emory University, where Murphy will begin at the end of August, he plans to double major in chemistry and economics. His ultimate goal is to get into medical school.
The truth is, Murphy was already facing a bit of an uphill battle this summer after an IT band injury left him out for the past cross country season. His current training involves running about 60-70 miles a week, plus weightlifting and faster runs, all in preparation for running at a Division III level at the Atlanta university. His mother Linda said his athletic training has been that much more important since he is coming off being hurt.
“I’ve been preparing for cross county, but it’s been more difficult to do,” Murphy said. “So far it’s been OK, but I’ve been getting up earlier and sleeping later. Running trails is one of my biggest passions.”
Even with the injury, Murphy won the Athlete of the Year award at Mills this year. Murphy said he would be willing to give up running if he had to make a choice between graduating on time or running.
So, what does Murphy see himself taking away from the experience so far?
“It’s given me a better idea of how to deal with problems outside of my control and the power of the media and politicians,” Murphy said. “I had to take more of a leadership role than ever before.”
Legal action seems to be the next step in dealing with the invalidations, but with Murphy and other graduated seniors leaving for school in the next month, his mother Linda and other parents wonder who will take on the lead. For now, those are unanswered questions.
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