Gatton Academy attracting high school students looking for a more challenging curriculum
09/16/2016 02:44 PM
BOWLING GREEN – Students who attend the Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science, a residential program for bright, highly motivated Kentucky high school juniors and seniors who have demonstrated interest in pursuing advanced careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, do so because they feel like they are not getting enough from their local high schools.
Gatton, which is in its 10th year of operation on the campus of Western Kentucky University, had its students move back into Florence Schneider Hall after a one year renovation brought the capacity up from housing 120 students to 200.
For senior Jonathan Kinnard of Christian County, Florence Schneider Hall is part of what makes Gatton so special.
“The building is a fundamental part of the Gatton Academy,” Kinnard said. “We have to have this centralized location. The previous housing was nice and I enjoyed it, but being here is kind of very fulfilling kind of sense.”
Students who come to Gatton aren’t necessarily leaving poor performing high schools.
Natalie Ngong of Louisville attended Manual High School, but was looking for more in the area of research.
“I knew at a college compared to my high school I would have far more opportunities to study the way I wanted to,” Ngong said. “I saw so many amazing trips and research opportunities that I knew I could take advantage of here.”
One of the keys to the overall success of the Gatton program is that fact that students who are enrolled can access free, unlimited counseling services through the office of Counseling Services to help them with personal issues that affect students academically, socially or emotionally.
Christopher “Pokey” Bowen, who has been counseling at Gatton since it opened in 2007, and is one of two full time counselors on staff tending to the needs of the 160 students, said he and his staff have been preparing for the increased enrollment.
“Once we realized that we were going to grow, we wanted to be ahead of the game,” Bowen said. “One of our strengths at Gatton is our social emotional program. It’s very important to provide assistance and adjustment help for our students.”
Gatton was not immune to Gov. Matt Bevin’s cut to higher education. Because their budget is tied to Western Kentucky University, beginning with the 2018/19 class, five fewer students around the commonwealth will be able to attend Gatton. The maximum number of students will drop from 100 to 95 because of the cuts.
Gatton will host two free preview weekends on Saturday, October 15 and November 19 where perspective students and their parents can visit the campus and meet with current Gatton students and staff to gain a better understanding of student life at the Gatton Academy.
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