Lake Zurich High School Student Media

The gift that keeps on giving?

students share their opinions on the gifted program

October 5, 2017

Landon Finn, junior, surrounds himself with many of the labels gifted program students often have thrust upon them.

Landon Finn, junior, surrounds himself with many of the labels gifted program students often have thrust upon them.

Landon Finn, junior, surrounds himself with many of the labels gifted program students often have thrust upon them.

Accelerated classes seven periods a day, three years in a row, all the same faces; this was the middle school experience of a student in the gifted program. The program was designed to provide a higher level of learning for a select group of students, but after completing middle school, how much effect does the gifted program really have on one’s high school career?

“I was never in gifted but I have a [good] GPA and I’m taking all Honors and AP classes,” Carley Peldiak, senior, said. “Gifted is a really just a label. You don’t need it to be an honors student in high school. I’m able to do just fine in all these accelerated classes because I don’t procrastinate and get a lot of work done.”

Although Peldiak’s focus and efficiency as a student are commendable, it isn’t one’s personal traits that makes them eligible for the gifted program. To qualify, students must take a series of tests and only those receiving highest marks receive the opportunity to join the program.

“To me, gifted is all about how good your MAP [standardized test] scores were,” Claire Jones, senior and previous member of the gifted program at Middle School South, said. “And it’s about how well you did on one test, one day.”

Similar to ACT and SAT scores, Jones believes MAP scores are a decent predictor for success levels in high school, but that they don’t take into people’s work ethic and style as a student. These traits, she believes, factor greatly into the personal success of a student.

“Gifted kids aren’t all the same. Some are lazier, some better at math, some more social,” Jones said. “So to say all gifted kids are going to be better in high school is false. Even [these kids] will struggle in [honors]. Gifted isn’t an automatic pass in those classes. It’s more about who is a well adjusted student.”

Peldiak and Jones share a similar course load of all senior honors classes, and both agree that the middle school ‘gifted label’ didn’t influence their high school success. Jones does not see gifted having made anything easier for her, and Peldiak does not feel as if she is under qualified in comparison to Jones to take on these honors classes.

“My sister was never once in the gifted program and she handles her course load a lot better than I do,” Jones said. “So I don’t think it’s just gifted that helps you out in that situation.”

Nolan Foreman, senior and member of the gifted program at Middle School North (HAL), asserts that unlike Jones and Peldiak, the gifted program assisted his transition to honors in high school.

“The transition to honors was easier [for me] than it probably would have been because the [gifted] teachers expected [high school level] work from us. We were assigned a growing amount of work each year,” Foreman said, “and this helped accustom us to what it would be like in honors or AP high school classes.”

Although Foreman agrees that the gifted program is not a necessary prerequisite for Honors classes, he believes that the program itself aids students by surrounding them in an environment that pushes them to think at a higher level at an earlier age. This mindset, Foreman said, is best learned early on in an academic career, as the gifted program does by starting in middle school.

“You are paired up with several like minded people who excel academically and want to learn more. This positive learning environment fosters excellence early on, rather than later,” Foreman said. “The desire to learn comes from within you, but the program helps make that desire grow.”

Despite their difference of opinion, all three students agree the gifted program has its benefits, however. Jones and Foreman both confirm that gifted created many bonds for them and it opened doors and opportunities that they will always be grateful for.

“The gifted program is something I’m glad I got to be a part of. I became so close with many students and really came out of my shell with them. It made me feel challenged at school,” Jones said. “But in the end, you don’t need gifted to be a good student. It comes down to hard you’re willing to work. If you push yourself and give your hundred percent, that is what is going to count.”


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