From left, Epiphany Simmons, Marketa Williams, Ty’Niquea Edwards, La’daria Shorts Lekeybriana Alen, Khaeijah Simmons and Brian Crum are Keith High Schools participants in the Howard Hughes Medical Institute for the biomedical program. -- Josh Bergeron
From left, Epiphany Simmons, Marketa Williams, Ty’Niquea Edwards, La’daria Shorts Lekeybriana Alen, Khaeijah Simmons and Brian Crum are Keith High Schools participants in the Howard Hughes Medical Institute for the biomedical program. -- Josh Bergeron

Keith students among those doubling up on learning

Published 2:06am Tuesday, September 24, 2013

By Josh Bergeron

The Selma Times-Journal

 

ORRVILLE — They are known as the prodigies.

Seven Keith High School students will be college graduates before their first day of post-secondary education.

The seven joke about being called “the smart kids,” but Keith principal Lou Ella Guthridge says they are the best and brightest in Dallas County.

“It sheds a positive light on our school and the school system,” Guthridge said. “They take the regular class load here in addition to college classes.”

The seven students are a part of a group of 22 Dallas County students participating in the Howard Hughes Medical Institute for the biomedical program. Dallas County and Southside high schools also have students in the program.

The Howard Hughes Medical Institute is a Maryland-based non-profit medical research organization.

“If this had been in place three years ago, my daughter would have been in it, especially when you look at the cost of education,” Dallas County Assistant Superintendent Hattie Shelton said. “They called Dallas County schools and asked if we were interested and of course we said ‘yes.’”

The students enrolled in the program, a partnership between Wallace Community College and Tuskegee University, are currently sophomores. Upon graduating high school, the students will also receive an associate’s degree.

Keith student Ty’Niquea Edwards said she spend most of her time at the high school, but travels to Wallace on Monday and Wednesday.

“It’s so much different than high school,” Edwards said. “I think it is easier than high school.”

Though the Keith students said they enjoy taking college classes as sophomores in high school, all agreed the summer trips are the best part of the program.

Each summer, students travel to Tuskegee to complete a research project.

Every student’s project was different.

Brian Crum, the lone male participant at Keith, said his project looked into what medicine causes Alzheimer’s.

In addition to the project, students also took a field trip to Atlanta, Lekeybriana Alen said.

“Going to Atlanta was the most fun part,” Alen said. “We stayed in a hotel and got to go to the aquarium.”

At Keith, the seven students are grouped together into one class. Their class schedules are identical and often work as a group to complete assignments.

“The program has brought us closer together,” Edwards said. “If one of us doesn’t know how to solve a problem, another person can show us how to do it.”

The program has inspired many of the Keith students to consider majoring in science, technology, engineering, or medical fields. Many are already considering which college to attend. University of Alabama-Birmingham, Georgia Tech, Auburn and Tuskegee are just some of the choices being considered.

The students aren’t quite done with high school yet. As sophomores, they still have two years of school left.

“It’s been great for them,” Keith teacher Yulonda Randolph said. “They come and work and push each other to work harder.

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