New summer program targets high-achievers

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By Tracy Harris

School district officials hope to continue raising the educational bar in Oldham County through a selective summer program.

The Oldham County Student Scholars program launched this summer under the guidance of Jackie Howell, the district’s secondary gifted and talented educational services coordinator.

Students completing grades seventh through tenth were eligible to apply for the competitive academic program. The application required two teacher recommendations, a written essay and reviews at both the school and district level.

Howell said 63 students were accepted into the program, which ran June 18-22 at North Oldham High School.

Students participated in two classes each day, with an intensive area of study from 8:30-10:30 a.m. and an exploratory area from 10:45-11:45 a.m.

Topics included medicine, psychology, sociology, fiction writing, teambuilding and technology.

Students in one class worked on identifying an infectious disease by doing research and being given more information each day. The class encourages students to use critical thinking and problem-solving skills, Howell said.

Those students in “So you want to be a doctor?” performed dissections and simulated medical procedures — like a gastric bypass — on a computer.

Meanwhile, students in the “Dream on ... Dream on ...” psychology class discussed dream interpretation in a morning session and explored the psychology behind daydreaming.

The class focused on altered states of consciousness and brought in a hypnotist for one session.

Howell said the selection process for instructors was also rigorous because the district wanted courses to be challenging.

Despite the early 8:30 a.m. start time, Howell said students remained engaged throughout the five-day program.

Ten program slots were held for out-of-district applicants, Howell said, which included two students who are moving to the district this fall.

She hopes more home-schooled students will become interested in the program.

The program received funding from the Oldham County Educational Foundation, a non-profit that provides additional support to enhance the educational experience of public school students.

Because of the OCEF support, in-district students paid only a $25 materials fee. However, students signed a contract agreeing to pay $225 if they were absent from the program. Out-of-district students also paid $225.

Howell said she hopes to add business sponsors next year to fund additional course selections.