• 57°

Natchez students prepare for ACT

NATCHEZ — Lanny Acosta has been cramming high school brains with knowledge for 29 years to prepare for the college entance exam known as the ACT, so he knows how to look for student fact gaps.

“You have to watch them,” Acosta said.

“If their eyes don’t flash, they don’t know it.”

By lunchtime Wednesday, Acosta had 56 Natchez High School students in the Steckler Hall Multi-Purpose Complex band room magnetized to his teaching method by using a simple rule.

“I don’t let their eyes wander from mine,” Acosta said.

Since the ACT test is based on a broad range of knowledge, Acosta said he focuses on filling academic holes by observing students, and then zeroes in on students’ weaknesses.

Acosta said he started his workshop with reading comprehension and followed with science, adding Mississippi schools generally tend to fall short in science basics.

Senior Kevin Bailey, 17, said Acosta’s method kept him awake and focused.

Bailey said he took time out of his summer vacation to attend the workshop because he is “just striving to be successful.”

Senior Asia Green, 16, said Acosta does a good job of engaging her and her classmates.

“He’s fun and creative, not a boring person going on and on… He stops and makes jokes,” Green said.

Acosta said keeping a smile on his face and establishing himself as an ally — not an enemy — helps him keep students engaged during the two-day, six-hour workshops.

“If kids perceive a mug on your face, they can’t think,” Acosta said.

Green said she has taken the ACT once before, and has learned useful tips and knowledge she did not know the first time around.

For instance, Green said she learned she should read questions before the passage on the reading comprehension section of the test. She also learned hint phrases, like “according to” often reveal answers to true or false questions.

Acosta said students’ scores improve by 2.2 points on average after attending his workshop. The highest possible ACT score is a 36. He said at least 83 percent of students who take his course improve their score.

In addition, students at the workshop will receive free access to Acosta’s test prep Web site, www.improveyourscore.com.

Athletic Director Fred Butcher, who moderated the workshop, said Natchez-Adams School District offered the workshop for the first time this year at no charge to the 68 students who signed up.

The workshop cost $7,500 in federal Title I funds, although Acosta usually charges $500 a student for the test prep workshop.

A former teacher and superintendent of Biloxi Catholic schools, Acosta, 67, said he feels compelled to continue teaching.

“I love what I’m doing. I’ve been retired for six years, but my goal is to get Mississippi not to be last,” Acosta said.

Sophomore Derrian Johnson, 15, who has yet to take the ACT, said the knowledge he will gain from the workshop will definitely give him an advantage.

He hopes to make a good score to better his chances of getting into the University of Southern Mississippi or Ole Miss, where he wants to major in sports medicine.

Green plans on going to a two-year college and then to USM to major in speech and language pathology.

Bailey hopes attend USM to major in criminal justice with hopes of becoming a narcotics detective.


Trash collection one day behind schedule for Thanksgiving


Ferriday man sentenced to life for 2019 slaying of Natchez schoolteacher


Mayor: Silver Street raising and dock plans moving forward


Tree lighting event is Saturday in Natchez


Former Natchez Alderman David Massey dies at 72


Stewpot ready to serve needy on Thanksgiving


Saturday high-speed chase began in Louisiana, ended with crash in Natchez


No print edition of The Democrat on Friday


Natchez school board cancels bid opening for new high school due to COVID-19


5 Miss-Lou residents die of COVID-19 over weekend


Remains found in Natchez neighborhood


The Dart: Natchez resident loves music


Coroner: A Natchez woman dies with COVID-19 Sunday


Suspect in high-speed vehicle chase arrested in Natchez


Natchez Police investigating Saturday shooting that injured two people


Coroner: Two Ferriday men died with COVID-19 Saturday at Merit Health Natchez


Natchez freedmen and women largely funded Emancipation Monument in Washington, D.C.


Adams County coroner loses 25-year-old granddaughter to COVID-19, urges compliance with health guidelines


35-year-old Ferriday resident dies with COVID-19 as cases, hospitalizations continue rising


‘American Pickers’ star Mike Wolfe picks Natchez


COVID-19 numbers spike locally just before holidays


Norm Yvon resigns as lead administrator of Cathedral School


ACCS falls to Leake Academy in MAIS Class 5A state championship


Second suspect arrested in Tuesday armed robbery