Although most teachers are ready for their summer vacation to begin, several local teachers continued working last week teaching the gifted students in Project STRIDE. But even that experience was a pleasant break from their routine.
"It has been a privilege to work with these kids. They've wanted to be here and wanted to learn. I love it," said Kelly Shouse, who teaches at Norris Elementary.
Project Summer Talent Recognition Identification and Development in Education is a three-day camp for gifted students sponsored by the Regional Educational Service Agency and was held at Norris Elementary School. The teachers this year are all from the McDuffie County School System, ranging in expertise from grades kindergarten through high school. McDuffie's QUEST teacher, Jerry Snider, organizes the camp as part of the gifted teaching certification class he teaches through RESA.
"The teachers are getting their gifted endorsement, and teaching these classes are their final exam," Dr. Snider said.
But the students don't care why they're there. They just love the experience.
"It's awesome because we get to express ourselves with music. We get on the computer and make up our own sounds," said Sadie Brown, 10, who was taking the Soundtracks class.
Mind-stimulating course sessions included topics such as questioning reality, medieval art, journeys of humpback whales, Australian native culture and Babysitting 101.
In Kyogen in the Kitchen, students learned the ancient form of Japanese slap-stick comedy.
"The best thing is all the words we get to use," said Ryan Jones, 11. "They're interesting and they have a kazillion syllables."
The Kyogen class and the Gepettos' Workshop puppetry class held performances for their parents on Saturday, the last day of the camp.
Zachery Rabun 9, said using a narrator puppet was a challenge he enjoyed, "because you have to pull a string to move his mouth and move his arm." Not only did the students make the puppets they operated, but they wrote their own scripts, using traditional Fairy Tale characters.
"But we got to modify it and make it funny," Charles Colberg, 11, said of the Goldilocks script. "But the best part was getting to use a hot glue gun to make the puppets."
Not to be outdone by the drama, students in the Hero to Zero class created their own superheroes and marketed their hero's powers in a contest to be voted the most Super Superhero.
"Electro uses electricity and electrocutes the bad guys," Samuel Derry, 9, said of his superhero. "And he's light-speed fast. He's going to win because he can beat everybody."
But Electro may have met his match in his electricity-powered counterpart, Raptor Man.
"He has super speed and heat vision. That means he can shoot fire out of his eyes and he shoots electricity out of his fingers. Plus, he can breathe in outer space, so he can go everywhere," said Zachery Bennett, 8.
The students themselves came from everywhere, so to speak. Seventy-seven students from McDuffie, Glascock, Warren, Wilkes, Jefferson and Columbia counties attended the camp.
"I had to get up at 5:30 every morning to get here, but it's really worth it," said Isaiah Evans, 9, from Louisville.