DeSoto County Schools quickly learned on the heels of having two of its students be perfect on the American College Testing, or ACT, examinations taken nationwide last fall, that it can add one more district student to the list of youngsters scoring 36 on the college entrance exam.
DeSoto Central junior John Barch also learned last month that he scored a 36 when the latest test scores came out in December.
Barch joined Lewisburg student Sydney Boone and Hernando’s Bailey Terrell as district students with a perfect score on the ACT in the latest round of tests taken.
Just like the others, studying is not the only thing Barch does. When he is not in the classroom, John likes to head outdoors to fish with his father and grandfather. You may have also seen him on the football field as a member of the Jaguars’ football team.
Barch is the son of Gary and Mary Barch. John’s father works for United Exchange and his mother is an instructor at Pleasant Hill Elementary School.
It was a third attempt at the ACT for Barch, who said he took the test in seventh grade as part of the Duke Talent Search and again earlier in his junior year, when he scored 34 on the exam.
He said his competitive side made him take the test again in December.
“I wanted to beat my sister,” Barch said. “She made a 35 so I decided to take it again. She was a valedictorian at DeSoto Central.”
The Duke Talent Search is a program that identifies academically-talented youngsters and uses college entrance exams as a means to better determine their abilities and interests.
DeSoto Central principal Cliff Johnston noted it was Barch’s humble nature that likely kept him from telling everyone about his academic success.
“John is a great student,” Johnston said. “He received his score in December and did not tell me. He probably did not tell anyone. He is not one to boast.”
Barch credited his AP Gifted English teacher Mary Kylie Ruff as being one who has most influenced him in his high school career. Ruff noted the Barch family is such that they make family outings a learning experience.
“John is a brilliant, unassuming student,” Ruff said. “You can tell by looking at him that he wants to understand what he is learning. He is a critical thinker and an exceptional student. He is very humble and has a quiet confidence.”
Barch said his parents have never put any exceptional stress on him to achieve in academics.
“They were very excited,” Barch said about his parents’ response to his perfect score. “My parents did not pressure us. They just encouraged us to do the best we could. Both of us have pushed ourselves,” Barch said about himself and his sister.
Just as with the other youngsters who scored 36 on the ACT exam, Barch said he took the PSAT classes that district schools offer, classes he said gave him some welcome tips about how to approach the exam.
“My PSAT class helped me learn pacing,” Barch said. “There are 60 math questions and they recommended doing the first 40 questions in 30 minutes because they get harder in math and you’ll need to spend longer on the last 20 questions.”
Barch said he has plans to attend the University of Mississippi when he finishes high school and major in mechanical engineering.
Bob Bakken is Staff Writer and may be reached at 662-429-6397 ext. 240.