Boquet: Excellent ACT work earns recognition

Published 12:03 am Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Within the next week, our local high school seniors will walk across the stage to receive their diplomas, leaving their high schools behind and turning their sights toward their futures.

For many, this means moving on to college.

Earlier this year, the St. John the Baptist Parish Public School District began publicly recognizing students who earned outstanding scores on the ACT, a crucial component of the college application process, as our ACT Elite.

The ACT is important as a college admissions criteria because it measures students’ aptitude, not just against their classmates at their high schools but against students across the country.

This semester, 10 students earned high enough scores to join our ACT Elite club. To qualify, students must earn a 30 or above composite score on their ACT test or Platinum on the ACT WorkKeys, a skills assessment test that earns students a National Career Readiness Certificate used by some employers to evaluate readiness for employment.

Cairon Becnel, Kayja Jackson, Kourageous Joseph and Claudia Zelaya all earned this platinum distinction.

Students earning a 30 or above were Cameron Cage (33), Jose Folgar (31), Niall Pierce (34), Trinity Sledge (30), Joshua Stoker (30) and Jayla Tassin (30).

Impressively, half of those students are just juniors, meaning they still have time to improve their already high scores if they choose to retake the test.

Niall Pierce is one of those juniors and he’s just two points away from a perfect score on the ACT.

He credits a combination of dual enrollment courses, especially in math, and a love of reading for his high score.

Niall offered the following advice for students taking the ACT.

First, read, read, read.

He says he definitely reads more than most of his classmates and, since reading is a fundamental part of the ACT, you’ve got to be able to do it fast. English and Reading make up half of the three-hour timed test, so improving reading skills is a big part of upping your score, according to Niall.

For the remaining two sections – math and science – he recommends getting an ACT prep book and taking advantage of those math dual enrollment courses offered at our high schools.

But his biggest tip: You don’t actually have to be good at science to do well on the science portion of the test.

“A lot of the science part is reading charts and graphs so you don’t need to necessarily be perfect at science,” he told me. “A lot of the information is right there in front of you.”

Niall says he has his sights set on a perfect score and has retaken the test with his last two results coming in at a 34, but, let’s face it, that’s still incredibly impressive.

While he’s a little humble about it all, mom Carol Pierce shares what she thinks is the biggest component of that high score.

“He makes things look easy but he works really hard,” she said.

Jennifer Boquet is the communications specialist for St. John the Baptist Parish Public Schools. Email her at