BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (Sept. 25, 2012) — Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear and Western Kentucky University President Gary Ransdell spoke Monday about what The Carol Martin Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science gave to Kentucky when Newsweek magazine named it the No. 1 high school in the nation this year — pride, hope, opportunity, affirmation. But Gatton Academy senior David Brown told a crowd of about 250 people gathered on WKU’s campus what Kentucky gave to the students of the Gatton Academy.
“We have a community that you cannot find anywhere else,” Brown said. “We learn from each other. We push each other, and, most importantly, we pick each other up when we fall. We are number one because no one is concerned with being number one.”
The audience of Gatton Academy students and parents, WKU faculty and staff, local legislators and community members, however, relished the honor during a celebration of the Newsweek designation sponsored by The Center for Gifted Studies Advisory Board.
The event’s speakers focused on two themes for the day, congratulations and thanks to everyone involved in the conception and success of the Gatton Academy and the need for continued support of the five-year-old school, which allows juniors and seniors to complete high school while earning more than 60 hours of college credit at WKU.
Beshear and The Center for Gifted Studies Board Member Charles Zimmerman highlighted the importance of bringing together the private sector, the government and educational institutions to ensure the future success and expansion of the Gatton Academy.
“This is the future of Kentucky. This is the future of our country,” Beshear said. “It doesn’t get much better than this, but it has to get better than this for more students.”
The Gatton Academy serves about 125 students each year, and they have come from 107 of Kentucky’s 120 counties. Newsweek named the Gatton Academy best in the nation after scoring 1,000 schools from across the United States based on four-year, on-time graduation rate, college matriculation rate, average SAT/ACT scores, and other criteria. Alumni of the Gatton Academy have excelled in these areas as well as received more than $16 million of college scholarships and winning prestigious national awards including Department of Defense SMART (science, mathematics, and research for transformation) Scholarships, Barry M. Goldwater Scholarships, and Department of State National Security Language Initiative for Youth Scholarships, among others.
Special thanks for facilitating these accomplishments and providing Gatton Academy opportunities went out the Carol Martin “Bill” Gatton for his funding gift, Gatton Academy and The Center for Gifted Studies Executive Director Dr. Julia Roberts, Gatton Academy Director Tim Gott, and Rep. Jody Richards, D-Bowling Green, who was Kentucky Speaker of the House in 2006 when the General Assembly approved funding for the Gatton Academy.
The governor praised these individuals as well as the Gatton Academy staff and WKU faculty and administration for removing the learning ceiling for Kentucky’s best and brightest students.
“Too often we don’t challenge our young people enough. The work here shows what happens when you make things more difficult, and you throw challenges at students and give them the tools to overcome those challenges,” Beshear said. “They soar. They soar.”