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Nomi Danzig, a TDSB top scholar who graduated with a 100% average, outside her home in Toronto, July 27, 2020.

Galit Rodan/The Globe and Mail

If there was one thing that Gregg Hebert noticed about having a perfect student in his classroom, it was that she was so hard to notice.

At least at first.

“She’s unassuming and subdued,” said Mr. Hebert, an English teacher at Toronto’s Bloor Collegiate Institute. “She would quietly come in, and get things done. It’s when she left that it dawned on you that she was such an exceptional student.”

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That student, Nomi Danzig, graduated last month with the rarest achievement: She posted a 100-per-cent average.

Ms. Danzig earned 100 per cent in six subjects, including biology, chemistry, physics and calculus. The Toronto District School Board will announce on Tuesday its top scholars, with Ms. Danzig being the only one in the group who earned 100 per cent.

Mathmobiles, teachers’ pets and virtual bands: How educators are getting creative in the pandemic

In Ontario, high-school graduates are considered top scholars when they attain an average of 80 per cent or higher in their six best Grade 12 courses. Ms. Danzig earned a 98 per cent in English, but that mark is not part of her top six courses.

“I never imagined getting a perfect score,” Ms. Danzig said. “I work hard and it’s nice to see working hard pays off.”

The COVID-19 pandemic shuttered in-class instruction in March, forced students across the country to learn remotely and scuttled traditional high-school rites of passages for graduates.

It was disheartening, Ms. Danzig said, but she still kept up with her schoolwork despite the government announcing that marks would not be negatively affected while students were learning remotely. Mr. Hebert, her English teacher, held online group discussions twice a week on the novels they were studying. Those sessions lasted for about an hour.

Ms. Danzig attended every one. Sometimes, it was just her and another student.

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“She was completely engaged. You can just tell that she enjoyed herself. Math and science students excelling in other areas doesn’t always happen,” Mr. Hebert said.

Asked about continuing her studies during the pandemic, Ms. Danzig quipped: “Learning is interesting. There wasn’t much else to do during the pandemic.”

At her school, Ms. Danzig was part of Talented Offerings For Programs in the Sciences (TOPS), a specialized program for students interested in enrichment in math, science and language arts.

She balanced a part-time job and was on the school’s volleyball team. Yet, she spent four hours every evening studying. She described herself as competitive, always aiming for a better grade. She also said she’d calm her nerves before a big test or exam by listening to music on her walk to school, but was generally confident because “I would have gone over the material pretty thoroughly.”

Her dad, Ian Danzig, said he wasn’t surprised to see that his hardworking daughter was named a top scholar. However, he was caught off guard to see her average of 100 per cent.

“I always knew that she had that ability and that drive,” Mr. Danzig said. “Her work ethic is bar none. I really don’t know anybody that has that level of focus and ability to time manage at this young of an age.”

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Mr. Danzig said he was disappointed that his daughter missed out on a graduation ceremony to cap off her remarkable achievement. But “now she’s off to new adventures,” he said.

Ms. Danzig will attend the University of British Columbia and study engineering. Her courses will be mostly online this fall.

She’s excited to move to Vancouver, but there’s a tinge of fear. “I am nervous that the already difficult process of moving will be made much harder by the pandemic,” she said.

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