The Johns Hopkins Gazette: June 7, 1999
June 7, 1999
VOL. 28, NO. 37


Top middle school students to be honored at Homewood

By Charles Beckman
Johns Hopkins Gazette Online Edition

Their SAT scores would make them the cream of the crop among applicants to the nation's top colleges and universities, but they're not enrolled. The catch? They're still in seventh and eighth grades.

These middle school students from around the country will be honored Saturday, June 12, when Hopkins' Institute for the Academic Advancement of Youth hosts The Grand Ceremony at Homewood's Shriver Hall. As part of its 20th anniversary year activities, the institute has invited the 400 top-scoring students from the 1999 talent search to be recognized for their outstanding academic achievement.

Every year the institute organizes the talent search, in which second- through eighth-graders tackle above-grade-level standardized tests to get a better handle on their true academic potential. The seventh- and eighth-graders invited to The Grand Ceremony took the college SAT.

The institute annually sponsors 84 ceremonies in 19 states and the District of Columbia to recognize and celebrate the academic achievements of gifted middle school students. This year, more than 16,000 students will be honored in person at these ceremonies.

"Recognition of academic ability is less common for middle school students than one might think," says Lea Ybarra, the institute's executive director. "We hear repeatedly from parents that our ceremonies are very meaningful for our students and their families."

Most seventh-grade students attending the Shriver event have earned scores of 700 or better on either the math or verbal portion of the SAT. Most eighth-graders attending have earned scores of 750 or better on the same sections.

One high-scoring student planning to attend the Homewood event is Emma Kelly, 14, an eighth-grade public school student from Oregon. Kelly, the daughter of a police sergeant and a journalist, credits several people for her achievements. "My guidance counselor helped me get involved with the Hopkins program," she says. Of her unusual math ability, she says, "I've had good teachers and, in the early grades, when school math was easy, my dad used to give me extra math problems at home."

On Kelly's weekend docket, along with visits to relatives, is a tour of the Hopkins campus. "It will be good to see a college I might like to attend someday."

For the Hopkins community, The Grand Ceremony is prologue for the June 27 arrival on campus of hundreds of students to the institute's CTY program. Two three-week sessions of academic study at Hopkins and 16 other schools and colleges nationwide are offered to the institute's students. This year's enrollment at all sites runs to nearly 8,000 students. The program concludes this year on Aug. 6.

Says Ybarra, "We're pleased to have programs here at Hopkins, both for the fine resources available to our students and for the chance for 700 of our nation's brightest young minds to see at an early age what Hopkins has to offer."

The event begins at 11:30 a.m. Timothy Weihs, assistant professor, Materials Science Engineering, will give the keynote address.