May

19

 Many of you are going through the graduation celebration season with a son or daughter. I recently had the chance to attend a state gathering of 500 of what is arguably the smartest seventh grade in OK. My seventh grade daughter got state recognition for her ACT reading score, and almost qualified for the science score through Duke TIPS program.

This program has taken off and is highly pushed by both public and private Jr. High schools in OK as a means to distinguish bragging rights for the educators as well as the parents.

Besides the above-mentioned 500 students about 50 students qualified for national recognition. While state recognition standard is near about the top 1% of seventh graders taking the test to qualify for national you needed to score near the top 1% for all students taking the test.

This opportunity was the chance to observe the concentration of talent of one age in one place. More than 400 of these honorees attended the ceremonies. It was a wonderful chance to evaluate the top tier of my daughter's peers.

What struck me about this group was how different they were from classmates. This group was even more different than the Hollywood image of what a young smart teen should look like. Notable difference are as follows:

  1. None had the overdone beauty queen want-a-be look. Very few had dyed hair or much hair styling at all. If they did dye, it was an anti-social hair cut. But this was the rarity. The contrast to my daughter's peers at school was significant.
  2. Likewise for the boys there were few if any clear "jocks", boys that towered over their peers by height, strength/weight.
  3. Both the boys and the girls were, well, still boys and girls. Most were clearly budding into puberty but many seemed behind their other peers in physical development. These were pretty kids, but nobody would mistake them for adults.
  4. The Blacks, Hispanics, and Native Americans where clearly under-represented for their population in our state. Yet those that did attend had the large extended families also attending to honor them.
  5. The Asian Indian population was only slightly over-represented, but they were more heavily represented at the national level.

All in all this was a very balanced set of kids. They escaped many of the cultural products that destroy many youths. If you saw the kids you would know how wrong the media's view is of the "youth of today".


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