Matthew Feraru mastered every course Prior Lake High School could throw at him, whether they were multivariable calculus, world history or environmental science. His summer plans are to soak up still more knowledge.
Feraru graduated top of his class this year and was honored by the math department at May’s senior recognition night. He hopes to go into both computer science and medical school, though where he’ll study isn’t yet decided while several applications are pending.
Wherever schooling takes him, it’ll be just the next stage in his lifelong drive to plumb the depths of multiple fields and simply do the best he can.
“I like working hard,” Feraru said in an interview. “I absolutely enjoyed just learning everything.”
His parents came from Romania, where schooling was extremely competitive and GPAs were public knowledge, Feraru said. They were top of their class as well, and they later encouraged their son to throw himself into science and math from an early age.
Feraru jumped into high school straight after seventh grade. The sudden advancement knocked him back on his heels for the first quarter or two, he said, but he soon felt at home.
Advanced Placement courses in English, math and other subjects quickly followed. He said he felt a bit disconnected from other students until he started the AP Cram Club two years ago, holding weekly meetings for students to help each other through the advanced classes.
“He’s very enthusiastic with the work he does,” said calculus teacher Daniel Beier, who presented Feraru with the math department award. “Sometimes he was a step or two ahead, making all of the connections with the content that we’ve been working with.”
Feraru credited Beier with being his best teacher, saying Beier connected even with students who never would have expected much success in the subject.
Outside of academics, Feraru spent his childhood years learning piano and volunteering at a hospital, helping out in multiple departments. He wants to be a surgeon, but his specialty is up in the air.
Prior Lake High School dropped valedictorian and salutatorian rankings about a decade ago, joining several other schools around the state. District leaders at the time said their goal was to prepare students for the future, not to be better in some way than each other.
Feraru said he’s not worried about his own honors, but he hopes the high school recognizes students’ academic work as much as, say, their theater success.
In the meantime, with many internships on hold because of the pandemic, Feraru is focused on teaching himself more advanced chemistry and physics than high school covered. The past couple of months of distance learning have given him more time to dig into his interests.
“Piano has been the constant,” he added.