The best and the brightest to shine at SCCC

| 21 Feb 2012 | 10:50

    SUSSEX COUNTY-College students are getting younger every day. Some of them look like fifth-graders. In fact, some of them actually are fifth-graders. Starting next month, groups of fifth- and sixth-graders will be at Sussex County Community College studying subjects like problem solving and amusement park science, as part of a new program for gifted and talented youngsters. The Academy for the Gifted and Talented is part of SCCC's efforts to open its doors to a variety of age groups and meet the educational needs of the entire county, said college President Dr. Bradley Gottfried. For parents, the new program is just what their high-achieving middle-schoolers need. "We were looking for a program where kids could reach a little bit further, think outside the box, be more challenged," said Maryellen Kahn of Green Township, whose daughter, Kayla, a fifth-grader, will attend the academy. "There is so much potential there to tap into." The academy will begin Oct. 5 as a pilot program and run for 11 weeks. The college is hoping to fill the first classes with 12 students each and then expand as interest and awareness of the program increases. "What I like about this is that we're not jumping in with both feet," Gottfried said, explaining that as a pilot program, it allows the college to adjust the project based on the initial experience. The first session will offer classes on Tuesdays and Fridays after school and on Saturday mornings. Students may choose classes in problem solving, elements of writing fiction, and amusement park science. The classes are based on suggestions from a parent advisory group n about a dozen parents who came to college officials last summer to request an enrichment program for their children. In fact, the entire project is the result of parent input according to Sivaraman Anbarasan, director of SCCC's corporate and community education program. One of the suggestions made by the panel of parents was that the program would have to be affordable and that a variety of time slots should be offered. Each session of 11 90-minute classes costs $199. According to Kahn most parents won't mind driving their children to the campus after school and on weekends. "We're putting academics as a priority," Kahn said. "We thought it was worth our time. You already drive your kids to ballet and soccer, so this is worth it." Classes will all include hands-on activity and will challenge the youngsters to think at a higher level, Gottfried said. "This is probably not something they'd learn in school," he said. "We're trying to get them to think in more advanced terms." Gottfried said some parents are enrolling their children in the academy because their public school districts don't have programs for gifted and talented students. Others are looking for even more enrichment for their children. The academy is being advertised through the college's catalog, its Web site and through school parent-teacher organizations. To register for the academy, students must qualify by scoring in the 95th percentile or higher on a standardized test, being already enrolled in a similar gifted and talented program in his home school, or having a strong recommendation from a teacher.