Inside the Gatton Academy Part 2: The students become masters

02/17/2013 05:00 PM

The 128 high school seniors and juniors that make up the student body at the Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science come from high schools in rural counties and city schools. Some leave schools they’ve long since outgrown academically, while others had attended schools that are highly ranked in their own right.

They make the leap to Kentucky’s elite magnet school at Western Kentucky University’s campus because it gives them access to college professors, research labs and other students who are as academically ambitious as they are. Not to mention, it’s the reigning top school in Newsweek’s high school rankings.

These students are being courted by Harvard and Yale. And since 2007, they’ve collectively won over a notoriously skeptical group: the professors. In Don Weber’s second part in his series about the Gatton Academy, he introduces us to some of the talented students currently enrolled and how they got there:

About Ryan Alessi

Ryan Alessi joined cn|2 in May 2010 as senior managing editor and host of Pure Politics. He has covered politics for more than 10 years, including 7 years as a reporter for the Lexington Herald-Leader. Follow Ryan on Twitter @cn2Alessi. Ryan can be reached at 502-792-1135 or


  • viewer wrote on February 18, 2013 11:51 AM :

    I have been reading about JCPS system’s problems over the last year or so. I have never heard anyone mentioning the parents in all the reporting. The state and teachers can only do so much. The parents need to do more of a child that is failing. One without the other doesnt work. Really good work here Don. Congrats on your daughter’s achievements. You and your wife have done a really good job at being parents. Its good to see positive stories on education in the state. Well done

  • Mike wrote on February 18, 2013 12:25 PM :

    And, “viewer,” one of the major problems with parental help is that in this economic reality of parents working two jobs to pay bills and still not have health insurance coverage means they simply cannot do it.

    Also, many parents don’t have the skills nor knowledge to be that helpful. That puts their children at an automatic disadvantage, even if they spend time with them trying to help them learn.

    As for the Academy, it is good something is happening; but, when you start with excellent students, give them above average educations, and pay for it with the same money (assuming that is the case) as would go to public education otherwise, it might just be better to put more into ALL of our educational system.

  • viewer wrote on February 18, 2013 12:48 PM :

    Very good points Mike. I agree. But this stuff should be talked about just as everything else when we talk about kids not doing good in schools.

  • Doug wrote on February 20, 2013 04:50 PM :

    Some would suggest that a large part of Gatton’s success is due to the generous (inequitable?) funding Gatton receives from the taxpayers of Kentucky. Makes one wonder what the results would be if Kentucky legislators made the same investment in ALL public schools.

    From Newsweek Ranks Kentucky Academy as America’s Top High School by Daniel Stone May 20, 2012 – “Gatton’s yearly budget for 126 pupils is $2.6 million.” That’s $20,600 per student… more then twice Kentucky’s average spending per pupil of $9,166 for all the other public schools. (data from:

    I’m not being a hater… Gatton is a wonderful educational institution… I would just like to afford ALL kids the same opportunity!!

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