by Brian Lamar, Assignment Editor

Kyle Foretich’s hopes and dreams were fueled as a small boy by a neighbor who shared amazing tales of being a pilot on a regular route from Anchorage, Alaska to Hong Kong flying cargo around the world for UPS.

In the beginning, his 3rd-grader day dreams of soaring through the clouds and dressing up as a zombie airline pilot on Halloween gave way to a hard reality that Foretich needed a solid plan to make those goals and dreams a reality.

As Foretich got older, he began to realize in order to actually become an airline pilot, he needed to find a way to get accepted to a highly competitive professional pilot program.

Foretich set a glide path course to sail into Auburn University’s prestigious program.

“I can’t think of a better career. The freedom and the excitement is only part of it. To control an aircraft from one destination to another is so satisfying,” said Foretich who has been taking private pilot’s lessons with Gulf Coast Aviation out of Stennis Airport since his freshman year and plans to earn his license within the next month.

For his academic efforts, Foretich has earned the STAR student award for having the highest cumulative ACT score in his class. Foretich  chose his two-time teacher Heidi Byrd as his STAR teacher.

STAR teachers are selected by the student as the person who made the greatest contribution to the STAR student’s scholastic achievement.

Foretich, who achieved an ACT score of 34 and a superscore of 35, which is an average of the four best scores average, says he owes the credit to Byrd due to the time and effort she spent with him.

“Mrs. Byrd was instrumental. I owe a lot of my score to her. She knew my weakest subject was English, so she set up study sessions after school and worked with me for up to four hours at a time sometimes,” Foretich said.

Although Foretich believes he owes a debt of gratitude for the dedication Byrd demonstrated to him, his humbleness takes away from the fact that this has been an academic marathon.

“I took the ACT the first time in the 7th grade and I got a 20. I was okay with that. It gave me a chance to see what I needed to do to improve,” said Foretich.

Foretich went on to take a prep class sponsored by Frigo Orthodontics.

After the coursework, Foretich took the test again as a Freshman and scored a 29. “I was real happy with that. I knew that would get me in to most places I needed to go,” he said. Foretich continued on. He knew he could do better. With the encouragement of Byrd, the duo looked up videos on strategies and worked on getting his timing down pat with the timed test.

“I took the test or practice tests nearly 10 times to get a thorough understanding of the test and how it works. I just needed to keep it fresh in my mind. Me and Mrs. Byrd constantly practiced and that helped me gain familiarity,” he explained.

Foretich realizes that not everyone will have the same experience as he did, but he has some advice to help others strive for the STAR student status.

“I would just say practice and you have to put in the time and effort. Sure, there is a chance you can be naturally smart and get a 25 or 30, but if you really push what you do and practice, think at what you can achieve,” he said.