School weighs expanding ACT prep course

An ACT prep course held at Blair Oaks High School might be expanded to accommodate all interested students. 

After hearing Principal Gary Verslues deliver a brief report about the prep course on Tuesday, Blair Oaks Board of Education member William Duke suggested he’d be interested making it available to all interested Blair Oaks teens. 

Currently, students start lining up by at least 6 a.m. to reserve their spot.

Verslues told the Blair Oaks school board that ACT Prep Week is held every October in preparation for the ACT test that same month.

“It’s 90 students grinding it out for a week,” Verslues said. 

He noted students cram on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. “They rotate three different times for an hour each time,” he explained. 

By Thursday, they take a practice test and review the answers. On Saturday, they sit for the test.

In the past, 75 students took the prep course, which is designed to hone students’ skills in the areas of science, math and language arts. While that number has been bumped up to 90 teens, it still leaves a few sophomores out of the mix. Seniors are given priority. 

“We took the first 90 kids,” he explained. “Don’t think that the kids and their parents don’t take it seriously. They do.” 

While not every sophomore can participate, all students are given a chance by the time they are seniors.

“No one gets left out,” Verslues said.

Students pay about $15 to cover the cost of materials.

After hearing about the program, Duke asked: “Do we need more resources to accommodate the sophomores?” 

Duke said students who want to take the prep course and are willing to pay the cost ought to be given a chance.

He noted the school just received news it has produced a second National Merit Scholarship finalist. Senior Matthew Glover earned the award this fall. He said it’s possible, if the prep course is expanded, even more students may hone their test performances, as Glover has done.

“I’m saying, if it’s an educational thing, let’s find a way to offer it,” Duke suggested. 

Verslues said he has to be careful about how much time he takes away from instruction, but he also noted the test prep course is “worth it’s weight in gold.” 

The principal said he’ll take a second look at the situation. 

“I’ll try to get the number of students who are actually missing out,” he told the Board of Education.

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