Honor students double learning, halve class time

Sheri Byrd
Kaiserslautern American

***image1***It’s not quite time-turning like J.K. Rowling’s Hermione Granger, but students in the Gifted Education Program at Ramstein American High School have the chance to double their classes, double their challenge and broaden their interests.

Curriculum Compacting allows qualifying students to audit advanced classes in the same time periods as some of their regular classes. This gives them time to participate in more challenging classes, although they also must meet the requirements faced by their classmates.

This is the first year that Curriculum Compacting, a Department of Defense Dependent Schools initiative, has been implemented at RAHS. It is brought to the school by geography, history and gifted education teacher Suzanne Conner.

Ms. Conner aims the program primarily at freshmen, who, she says, often need more of a challenge than gifted upperclassmen who have full schedules of college-level Advanced Placement and other challenging courses.

“This was an idea I learned at Chapel Hill University, and I first used it in the North Carolina Gifted Education Program,” said Ms. Conner.

To qualify for the RAHS Gifted Education Program, students must score in the 97th percentile or higher in at least two subject areas on the TerraNova standardized tests.

“I am very interested in history. Because I’m in the program, I can take classes that really grab my interest,” said freshman Kate Nail, gifted education student in John Penter’s AP Art History class.

“I love the class. The book we are learning from is amazing,” said freshman Maria Eller, also auditing AP Art History.

It takes some cooperation with teachers and some work with scheduling, but the program meets the students’ individual needs and helps them prepare their academic careers, said Ms. Conner.

“I am extremely excited about this class. It is very challenging and is fun at the same time,” said freshman Hunter Morash.
Dr. Barbara Ferg-Carter, principal at RAHS, said that enthusiasm for the program is growing.

“Curriculum Compacting is a valuable avenue for students in gifted education. They are challenged where their interests lie, and they learn so much more,” she said.