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ACT camp gets high grades

Demopolis High School held its first-ever ACT camp on Saturday, a three-hour session where DHS students can work to either improve on a previous ACT score or go into their first ACT test better prepared. The school will host another ACT camp day this Saturday.

Students are eager to do well on the American College Testing (ACT) program test, as it is a measurement for college admission and scholarships.

It’s all about helping Demopolis students come away with their best possible score in a scholastic arena where high school seniors are competing for scholarships and admission to colleges and every single point in the ACT can make the difference between getting into a college of the student’s choice, another college or no college at all. It can be the difference in gaining free scholarship money to attend college or that money going to someone with a better ACT score. It is the bar by which graduating seniors are measured by colleges and scholarship foundations.

The positions for all three sessions — math, science and English — filled immediately for both days, an indicator that DHS students understand the importance of the ACT test and want to do as well as they can on it.

“It was a positive response,” said DHS principal Dr. Isaac Espy Jr. “The students who attended are serious about improving the scores on their ACT. They understand the importance of the ACT. It’s going to be the difference with some of them getting a four-year full scholarship, partial or none. Our teachers have stressed how crucial this assessment is to our students. It may be the one single-most important factor that can figure in a student’s portfolio because it is a universal score.

“Our students have certainly gotten the message. We are very proud of their response. Most teenage students value a Saturday at home, that time to kick back and do nothing. I am very pleased with their effort, and our teachers deserve high praise for spending their Saturdays to come out here to help our students help themselves.”

Espy said that they have learned some things with their firstcamp and may change some things next year. With the limited number of open positions becoming filled so quickly, expanding the camp next year is one option.

“You certainly hate to tell a student ‘No,” he said. “We want our students to take the ACT initially no later than their 11th-grade year. Go ahead and log in an ACT score and give us something we can improve on. A good number of our students came to the camp to improve on a certain part of the ACT. Some of our students came in here with goal-specific reasons for coming, and you have to admire that. We may even encourage them to have an ACT posted prior to signing up for camp so we’ll know what to work on.

“We’ve also kicked around the idea of a first-timers program so we can give them a more well-rounded approach to the first time they take the ACT.”

Espy said there are also pre-tests that students can take to get ready, but it does not reflect the entire ACT testing picture.

“Sometimes the pre-test does not paint an accurate picture of how well a student would do on that Saturday (of the test),” he said. “On Oct. 25, when they take the ACT, students should have their game face on and bring their ‘A’ game to the ACT and just give it everything they have, and that’s what we’re looking for, too (with the camp).”

Espy said that the camp was not just to focus on the weak points of a student, but to find the subject where a student could make up the most points.

“We’re very, very happy with how our first weekend went,” Espy said, “and we hope that next week, it goes as well or better.”