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Word of mouth feeds program


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POSTED: Sunday, May 24, 2009

Some students who would benefit most from the advanced classes offered by the renowned Center for Talented Youth don't even know that the program exists.

“;It's a great opportunity. I guess my only wish is that CTY would do more recruiting,”; said Larry K. Kekaulike, director of college guidance at Maryknoll School. “;I would love to see more public school kids apply. I think CTY needs to make a conscious effort to come out to Hawaii. Right now they are using their network of parents (to get the word out), but that only goes so far.”;

Kekaulike got involved with the 30-year-old program in 2003 when he was Hawaii Pacific University's associate director of admissions and HPU became the first Hawaii site to offer a CTY-affiliated summer course. The oceanography class attracts gifted students from all over the country. He stayed involved after leaving HPU, and serves as master of ceremonies at CTY's annual awards ceremony for Hawaii students.

Kekaulike did a project on CTY as part of his HPU master's degree in communications, interviewing past participants, their parents and school principals about the program, which uses standardized tests to identify academically gifted students in grades two through eight. Students who score high enough are eligible for advanced summer and online courses.

He found, not surprisingly, that schools that regularly administered standardized tests, kept track of students' scores and encouraged top students to apply for CTY and to complete the required follow-up testing had a high proportion of students making the program.

“;The individual's intelligence is the main thing, but after that, it has a lot to do with the school's testing coordinator,”; said Kekaulike, citing 'Iolani School as an example of a school “;getting it right.”;

Of the 98 Hawaii students earning “;high honors”; from CTY this year, 30 - about 31 percent of the total - were from 'Iolani.

Kekaulike would like to get the word out to other students who don't realize that high test scores open doors “;to exciting challenges and the chance to meet other kids their age who are just as bright. The can't be in it if they don't even know about it.”;

For information about the Johns Hopkins University Center for Talented Youth, including eligibility requirements and how to apply, see www.cty.jhu.edu