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School hosts harvest party for first crop of students

Alissa Widman Neese • Nov 6, 2013 at 3:53 PM

At the Regional Center for Advanced Academic Studies, the area’s new full-time gifted school, students instead showcased a fitting, equally impressive activity: exercising their minds.

The school hosted a Harvest Party on Oct. 30, where parents watched students compete in fun challenges, similar to the popular “Minute to Win It” television game show. Many wore Halloween costumes during the competition, which took place in the school’s gymnasium.

Students then participated in team-building, logic-based activities.

Meanwhile, parents gathered in the school’s college-style “common area” for a round table discussion about the future.

“This was a way to come watch these kids do something that they really excel in, without putting so much emphasis on athletics,” principal Tara Toft said. “We tried to mix them up with students they didn’t already know to increase the teambuilding aspect.”

The Regional Center for Advanced Academic Studies opened Aug. 26 as the only full-time gifted school in the area, with about 75 students attending. It currently accommodates grades 4-6, but plans to expand to third and seventh grades next school year.

It’s housed at the former Jackson Junior High School building at Jackson and West Madison streets.

Brandy Whelan, whose daughter Elle Whelan currently attends the school, said it has provided her with fun and challenging opportunities. Elle, a fourth-grader, participates in an afterschool science program and strings orchestra, where she plays the violin.

Brandy is a member of the school’s Parent Council, a group of parents who helped organize the Harvest Party.

“The feedback from the students was great, and they’re hoping we do another party in the spring,” she said. “I really hope we continue to keep parents involved and active in the school. School pride is very important and so is parent participation.”

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