Obama invites L.A. teen with perfect AP Calculus exam score to White House Science Fair

Cedrick Argueta, left, a senior at Lincoln High School in Lincoln Heights, and his math instructor, Anthony Yom, show off one of the AP Calculus T-shirts that students wore to their exam last spring. 
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

Cedrick Argueta, the Lincoln High School student who made national headlines for his perfect score on the Advanced Placement Calculus exam, may be going to the White House.

President Obama sent a tweet Sunday with an invitation for the teenager: “Cedrick; way to go on your perfect score! How about you come by the next White House Science Fair?”

Of the 302,531 students across the world who took the AP Calculus AB exam last year, Cedrick was one of only 12 to earn every single point. He and his classmates took the exam — a three-hour, 15-minute test administered by the nonprofit College Board for possible college credit — in May.

“It's been surreal,” Cedrick said Sunday morning after friends texted him a screenshot of the president's tweet. “The first thing I felt — my heart was pounding. To have the most important man in the world tweeting about you? You have to be excited.”

Cedrick — a quiet, humble student who is quick to thank his teachers and parents for his success — said he'll join the president at the fair “if his offer still holds.”

The White House Science Fair, hosted by the president, features projects, designs and experiments from students across the country and celebrates students who excel in science, technology, engineering and math.

Cedrick's story has made headlines around the world since his score was announced by the Los Angeles Unified School District last week. He is the son of Lilian and Marcos Argueta, both of whom came to the United States as young adults — she from the Philippines, he from El Salvador. Lilian, a licensed vocational nurse, works two jobs at nursing homes, and Marcos is a maintenance worker at one of those nursing homes.

“I'm speechless,” Lilian Argueta said Sunday. “I can't believe this is happening.”

Lincoln High School Principal Jose Torres said Cedrick's achievement was inspiring.

“I'm very proud of Cedrick's accomplishment's and his teacher's dedication,” Torres said in an email.”

Cedrick, a 17-year-old senior, said he was spending the weekend catching up on schoolwork after several days of ducking out of classes early to do interviews.

Cedrick on Sunday texted a screenshot of Obama's tweet to Anthony Yom, his Calculus teacher at Lincoln High. He said he hopes Yom gets the recognition he deserves.

“It's not just about me,” Cedrick said.


8:19 p.m.: This article was updated and rewritten throughout.

This article was originally published at 10:46 a.m.