SAT canceled for fifth time; Chesapeake senior is frustrated


CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) — It’s easy to forget about the past few months when you sit and listen to 17-year-old Hassan Darden play the keyboard.

“I’ve been playing piano since I was 2 years old,” Darden said.

Music is not only a way a life for the rising Chesapeake high school senior, but also it’s his chance to get wrapped up in the melody.

“You know when you play those keys, you’re kind of lost in time whenever you play a song,” Darden added.

But lately, the songs have served as a much-needed break from the test that is literally staring the Indian River High student in the face.

“Study, study, study, study,” are the words written on a calendar in his bedroom.

There are three letters that scare most seniors: SAT.

“If there was a music portion on the SAT, I would have like 1600 or higher,” Darden said with a laugh.

Unfortunately, there isn’t, which can explain the love-hate relationship he has with his 1,200-page SAT study guide.

“I want to say it’s like a five pound weight,“ Darden said.  “I’m absolutely tired of seeing this book.”

Darden actually wants to take the test, yet he still hasn’t had his chance.  

“March, April, May, June, and August (I was signed up),” Darden added.  “Five times it’s been canceled.”

COVID-19 is keeping this 2021 grad from the test. At this point, he’s concerned about college. The good news for Darden is most universities are waiving the SAT and ACT requirements this year.

Virginia Wesleyan, William & Mary, Norfolk State and Christopher Newport universities all say next year applications will be test-optional.  Old Dominion has been test-optional for years, but it doesn’t guarantee an applicant’s admission.

“Admission into ODU remains selective,” said ODU spokeswoman Giovanna Genard.  “Test-optional students are still required to demonstrate completion of a rigorous college preparatory high school curriculum.”

Darden says his first choice is to become an ODU student and enter the university’s music program.

“I’m at the point where I’m kind of freaking out mentally,” he added.

However, the Chesapeake school division says it’s working to make SAT testing available to students.

“SAT host sites have been working with the College Board representatives over the past few months to determine the most appropriate plan for offering the SAT in these challenging times,” said Richard Babb with the Chesapeake School system.  “As you can imagine, there are many things to consider when making these decisions. Safety for students and staff must remain our top priority. As a result of the pandemic, many colleges and universities are changing their application requirements. Chesapeake Public Schools will continue to reassess the situation and make future decisions based on the same metrics we are using to develop our plans to return to school.”

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