On Friday, September 4th, The Gatton Academy hosted its annual Picnic with the President. This event is typically held behind Florence Schneider Hall but was relocated due to the construction. In the backyard of Bates Runner Hall, The Gatton Academy hosted a picnic for both students and parents, providing an opportunity to meet WKU’s very own President Dr. Gary A. Ransdell. Also present were various members of WKU’s faculty and staff. While the event was casual, speakers included President Ransdell and Director Lynette Breedlove. They discussed the relocation of the Academy, addressing common questions like the estimated conclusion of construction and how an increased student body will effect class scheduling. Food was provided by the WKU Catering Group, and the music selection was supplied by an unknown individual with excellent taste. In all, it was a casual event that provided parents and students alike to meet with President Ransdell and professors outside of a professional setting.
Volunteering is way to gain experience, to grow as an individual or group, and to make a positive impact of the lives of others. There are many options for Gatton Academy students to get involved in service.
Key Club is an international student-led organization, which provides its members with opportunities to provide service, build character and develop leadership. The Gatton Academy’s Key Club has participated in various activities including a fundraiser for UNICEF during Halloween, as well as volunteered at Kiwanis Club of Bowling Green and community events.
Beta Club is another organization with a mission to serve. In the past, Beta Club has traveled to the local animal shelter and cleaned the surrounding parks.
GALE is the Gatton Academy’s tutoring program in association with Dishman Elementary School. Gatton students can spend an afternoon working with young students in the community on their schoolwork, all the while making connections and forming relationships.
These are just a few of the possible extracurricular activities in which service is available. Within the Academy, students are passionate about helping others and making a difference. There is an abundance of resources to fulfill this passion.
One of the biggest differences about taking classes in college is that almost every class seems to have a uniform schedule for the semester. This means that the tests for classes come in blocks and it is not unusual to have 3 or 4 tests in a week. For juniors this is the first major academic test for them as a week of cramming and studying is sure to follow. For many at the Academy this may be the first time that they are academically challenged. This time can instill a strong work ethic in those that now must work hard for their grades. Over the next couple weeks the juniors will be going through this “Rite of Passage” and the seniors will be getting back in the swing of balancing hard work and a social life.
One of the ways The Gatton Academy helps incoming juniors adjust to college life is study hours. For the first five weeks, the juniors are required to study and do their homework in one of two designated rooms from 7-9 pm. This allows the juniors to get used to the college workload and gives them a specific time in which they have to study. During study hours, tutors are also available in various subjects, especially in Computer Science and math.
After the first five weeks, all students have a “Five Week Assessment”, in which they get their grades validated and signed by their professors and turn them into the guidance counselor. Our guidance counselor then looks over the grades, and if a student isn’t failing any class or doesn’t have more than one C, he/she will be let off study hours. However, if a student (junior or senior) is failing a class or has an excessive amount of C’s, he/she will be on mandatory study hours until he/she gets his/her grade up.
The two rooms designated for study hours are available from 7-9, Sunday through Thursday, all year long. One room has a more quiet setting for students who really need a peaceful environment to study and another room has the tutors and allows for some talking and group work. Tutors are also available all year long and students who are not on mandatory study hours are welcome to come to study hours and utilize the tutors. Study hours are a great resource and a good way for the Academy to help students study, especially away from their parents.
Many people have asked us the same question repeatedly about Academy life: do you ever get homesick? Of course it varies from person to person. There are some that go home nearly every weekend because they miss their loved ones. Then there are those like myself who like to be on campus with friends as much as possible to fully take in the experience. Regardless of how often you see family, your childhood bedroom, or even a beloved pet, everybody responds to the change in environment differently.
It isn’t as big of an issue as many would think, though. Sure, heading off to college is a big shift, but Gatton provides many ways to beat homesickness. Students around the Academy have often said that with how busy college life is, there really isn’t much time to miss family. From weekend activities, such as several recent trips to Mammoth Cave National Park, to enlightening seminars with the staff, activities outside of classwork abound.
The best mechanism to combat homesickness at the Academy, by far, is the community of students that forms while students are here. When struggling against the seemingly titanic forces of classes, attempting to live up to expectations, and finding that single working dryer, your fellow students become more than friends. They’re your allies. Matthew Broadbent, a student in the class of 2017, summed it up best. “We are all one big family. So I don’t experience homesickness, because it feels like I’m right at home.”
As the fall semester progresses, Tracy, our wonderful college counselor, has started to bring in college representatives and admissions advisors in order for juniors to start thinking about schools that interest them and for seniors to ask any questions they may have for schools they are applying to. Columbia University, University of Southern California, University of Kentucky, Rose Hulman Institute of Technology, Stanford University, and Bellarmine University, in addition to a few other schools, will be visiting the Academy in the coming weeks to provide information to students.
These advisors talk about academic opportunities, usually centered on STEM subjects, extracurricular activities, and any steps an interested student should take now to learn more or really give them an advantage in the application process. The college application process is a major part of the academy seniors’ fall semester and these visits are always helpful in making the process just a little bit less stressful.
By: Rebecca Wood
The first preview day of the 2015-2016 school year was held on Saturday, September 12. Prospective students and their families were welcomed into an information session led by the Gatton staff. Here, the basic premise of the Gatton Academy and its community was explained.
Next was time for the tours. After splitting up the eighty people into three separate tour groups, the Gatton students led the prospective students and parents from the Bell Tower and DSU, into Bates Runner Hall to see bedrooms and common spaces, past the in-progress renovation of Florence Schneider Hall, up to Odgen College, and back down to Grise.
The next portion of the day was centered around panels. In the Grise Auditorium, the parents were encouraged to ask questions to a group of four Academy Avatars as well as four Gatton Academy parents. Generally, the questions concerned how parents could help their children get ready for or apply to Gatton, how they know their children are ready for Gatton, and the challenges the parents and their children would face at Gatton. The students were in a classroom with a different four Avatars. These questions were involving study abroad experiences, classwork, favorite parts of Gatton.
The next preview day is Saturday, October 17.
The first day of college is very different for each person at the Academy. You have juniors who are nervous and are highly anticipating their first time in a college classroom and seniors who are dreading a day full of syllabus summaries and the beginning of homework. While there are many differences in how people view the first day, one thing is for certain, the first day is the beginning of change for us all at the Academy. Juniors are beginning the first major step in a brand new experience. Seniors are beginning the home stretch to the next step in life, real college. This year will hold many new experiences and memories, and today is just the beginning.
Like any typical high school, Gatton hosts a variety of clubs for students to join. This past Saturday, we had a Club Fair with a variety of clubs headed by the seniors at The Academy. We have traditional clubs like Beta Club, FBLA (Future Business Leaders of America), and Yearbook as well as some more unusual clubs like Ultimate Frisbee Club, Niven Club, and Cooking Club. While Gatton doesn’t have as many clubs as a regular high school, students are free to start a club.
Gatton students balance their tough courses with the extracurriculars The Academy offers. Many look forward to participating in non-academic activities in their free time and love to be a part of something that enhances the Gatton community. The Club Fair was especially fun for the incoming juniors, for they didn’t know that Gatton would have so many clubs to choose from. It was also fun for the seniors, as there were a few new clubs that were started this year, like the Harry Potter Alliance and Hindi Club. All and all, clubs are an integral part of The Academy and provide another way for students to be passionate about what they love.
Ask anyone who knows me, and they will tell you that I don’t take that title as a joke. There is something about the rhythm that just makes me want to move my feet! I have never met a group of people in my life that all feel comfortable enough to have fun doing things they are terrible at. It’s not to say that all of Gatton can’t dance, but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that we weren’t a dancing academy. Regardless of our dancing ability, most all of us got out on the dance floor at least once and had a great time.
Even when it seemed that the dance wasn’t meant to work out – the lights wouldn’t turn out, the speakers were too small, the music was without a playlist – The Gatton Academy persisted and persevered. We taped construction paper to the lights, we gathered all our speakers together, and we all took turns choosing songs.
I remember my junior year adventure week dance. I had never danced before. I was content with being one of those who just sit on the sidelines and watch. I didn’t want to risk the embarrassment of looking silly in front of all my new peers. But after a while, I realized that there were others just like me who were not very good at dancing, one was even doing jumping jacks! With the encouragement of a few, I made those crucial first steps out on the dance floor. At first I kept it simple: step to the left, step to the right. Then I began to sing along. And before you knew it, my hips were moving in directions that I didn’t know was possible! I did a little jig, a shimmy followed by a head-roll, threw in some footwork and added some special “Jerry” jazz. By the end of the next couple dances, I had a “Jerry Dance” fan club! Of course most were not watching because they were impressed, but at the same time, I don’t feel they were laughing at me, rather with me. And that sort of environment is hard to come by.
I could tell that the juniors felt the same way as I did when I was in their place, which is why I am proud to say that at one point in time I didn’t see a single person standing against the wall too shy to dance. Who knows, maybe there is a “Jerry” protégé in the works…