BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – The only really true way to see the meaning of something is to try it…or as the old adage goes, the proof is in the pudding.
That’s apropos, especially when you’re talking about Kumar Wickramasingha’s Elliott Test Kitchen, where local students can go after school several nights a week to get additional help studying and preparing for exams, specifically the ACTs.
Jack Marek, a senior at Fort Madison High School recently took advantage of the programming at the Test Kitchen and nailed a 33 on his ACT. Marek said he credits about two months worth of test preparation in achieving the high score. The highest score you can get on the national exam is a 36.
“I came down here once a week for about 8 weeks,” Marek said Tuesday as he helped prepare and serve food for Governor Terry Branstad’s visit. Branstad visited for lunch as part of 99-county swing through the state. Branstad said each year he visits all 99 counties in the state.
“We focus on math, science and reading in different sessions,” Marek said. “Then we get some tips on the best way to take the test and how to maximize our time in each session.”
Several teachers, who were in attendance Tuesday as part of the reception for the Governor, were Brent Zirkel and Andrew Troxel. Both teachers spend time at the kitchen as part of the services to the students. Market said Troxel showed him a practice of keeping his pencil in line with where he was reading to help focus the eye and brain on what was being comprehended.
“Those are some of the things they teach us here.”
The Test Kitchen is also known for some pretty good study snacks. Wickramasingha, who was once the manager of Alpha’s on the Riverfront, brings his knowledge and skills of cooking to the program as well as helping students who want to learn to make some basic dishes do so and then serves them for the students during the study sessions.
The Test Kitchen is located at 807 Avenue G and can be reached by calling 319-250-9052. You can also visit the website at www.tkef.org.