Special classes for gifted kids

A YOUNG Einstein, the next prime minister, or the Charles Dickens of the future could be at school in the Northern Rivers.

The region's smartest and brightest are eligible for various gifted and talented academic-extension programs in schools.

Some Northern Rivers schools also offer opportunity classes for exceptional scholars, but students must sit a test to get one of the hotly contested places in these classes.

Pupils who are unchallenged by school work, or realise they have brain mechanisms which rival that of a calculator, apply to be in these exclusive programs which offer students a higher standard of school work and give them more opportunities to participate in extracurricular academic competitions and events.

Richmond River High students Twoey Jones and Alex Jones (no relation) have more academic and extracurricular achievements than one could count including Youth of the Year finalist, Youth Parliament member and school captain.

Twoey reflects on the gifted and talent programs as he confidently solves a 20-line maths equation that looks like a mess of numbers and squiggly lines.

“There is not a lot of opportunity in primary school so when I got to high school there was all these things that I could do so I just scrambled for them,” the 16-year-old said.

“I am a bit of a natural and I enjoy it.

“Often in class you are learning with people who don't care. The people in my Reach High (Gifted and Talented sub-program) are motivated.”

Twoey recently won a regional public speaking competition and is off to Sydney next week to compete in the State finals.

This is in between studying in his accelerated mathematic class. The Year 11 student is the only student in his school doing HSC level work.

Former Reach High student Alex, 17, sees plans for Twoey saying he could be prime minister if he wasn't so ‘honest'.

Alex is also a high achiever.

The Year 12 student admits she spent her early high school years in detention after she found herself not being challenged by material taught in her normal classes.

Now the Youth Parliament member is living independently, reads up to four books at once, is in various debating competitions (and winning), and is studying for a certificate in aged care at TAFE while also studying for her HSC.

“I started in the Reach High class in Year 10. You get a bit of extra work and it's for students who want to do it,” she said.

“I used to come in and I didn't want to do anything and nothing empowered me. I was in trouble all the time, but I still always seemed to get good marks.”

The Hanging Rock Rural Fire Service member, the regional Lions Youth of the Year 2010, and soon-to-be high schoolgraduate, now talks of opening her own medical practice after finishing her degree in nursing.

These two talented students are nearing the end of their schooling career.

Meanwhile Trinity Catholic Collegestudent and science genius Evangeline Sharman, 12, is only just beginning.

The Year 7 student studies all of her subjects in accelerated classes, and recently got a distinction in a state-wide science test, placing her in the top two to three percentile in NSW.

Whereas fellow Trinity student Jared Seiffert, 17, is a maths whiz.

“Maths is my best subject as I have areally good memory,” he said.

“In class about two years ago we were studying the numerical value of pi (3.14) and I remembered 200 digits after the decimal and recalled them in front of my class.”

Bright primary school children are also rising through the ranks.

Alstonville Public School and Goonellabah Public School are two schools on the NSW North Coast that offer opportunity classes.

Eleven-year-old Zoe Whelan-Young is at Alstonville.

The school captain and aspiring novelist names English as her best subject, but also excels on the sporting field, taking first place in events across the board.

“I really like writing and imagining different things,” Zoe said.

“I got a distinction for spelling andEnglish, and I am pretty proud of that because they are my best subjects.”

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