Bonita Middle: Trio of students show talents during Duke’s TIP program

Abigale Ferguson, Collin MacPherson and Caitlyn Nicholson learned a lot about themselves during a Duke TIP exam.

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Abigale Ferguson, Collin MacPherson and Caitlyn Nicholson learned a lot about themselves during a Duke TIP exam.

Abigale Ferguson, Collin MacPherson and Caitlyn Nicholson learned a lot about themselves during a Duke TIP exam.

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Abigale Ferguson, Collin MacPherson and Caitlyn Nicholson learned a lot about themselves during a Duke TIP exam.

Nineteen seventh-graders from Bonita Springs Middle School were invited to take either the SAT Reasoning Test or the ACT Assessment college entrance examinations this year as a part of the Duke University Talent Identification Program (Duke TIP).  The students took the test along with high school students at a testing facility, as though they were juniors or seniors on test day.

The Duke program identifies students in 16 states who have scored in the 95th percentile on a grade-level achievement test and have an IQ of 130 or higher. As part of the program, these academically talented students take above level college-entrance exams to learn more about their abilities. Duke TIP then provides the participants with comparative information and resources for unique educational opportunities.

“It is an honor just to be asked by Duke’s TIP program to take the test,” said Vivian Colon, Bonita Springs Middle School guidance counselor and the schools Duke coordinator. “To give up a Saturday? The 14 students that decided to take the test should all be proud for the wonderful opportunity that was presented to them.”

This year, 67,280 seventh-graders participated nationally. Of this number, 24,204 students from Duke TIPS’s 16-state region scored well enough to be invited to a state recognition ceremony. In Florida, 3,076 students out of the 11,462 who applied qualified for the state recognition ceremony. This represents 27 percent of the Florida students who actually tested. Three of those 19 seventh-grade students from Bonita Springs Middle School are now recognized among some of the most academically talented seventh graders in the U.S. Abigale Ferguson, Collin MacPherson and Caitlyn Nicholson are being recognized for their exceptional scores on either the SAT or ACT exams. The students took the exams without training in geometry and college level math courses, but that didn’t stop the students from making high scores.

“I was nervous walking into the high school at first,” says Caitlyn Nicholson, one of the students who took the SAT and was recognized at the state ceremony for her high score. “But once I put the pencil in my hand and began taking the test, it felt like I was in one of my classrooms at Bonita Middle.”

“Because I am tall, I blended in with the juniors and seniors. However, seventh grade students had a different colored admission ticket to enter and when one student asked why my color was different than his he could not believe I was only a seventh grader taking the exam,” says Collin MacPherson who also was recognized at the state ceremony for his ACT score. “I think I was the only one whose mom drove me to FGCU, walk me to the test area and meet me outside when it was over.”

The state recognition ceremony was held Wednesday, May 27 at New College of Florida in Sarasota. The ceremony honored seventh graders who had earned scores equal to or better than half the college-bound seniors who took the tests.

“It is rare that so many gifted students can come together to be honored for their achievements and encouraged by their intellectual peers,” said Martha Putallaz, Ph.D., executive director of Duke TIP and professor of psychology at Duke University. “The honorees have proven, at this young age, their capacity for great things. We hope they consider their achievement to be an invitation to pursue an ambitious path in life.”

Bonita Springs Middle School students who were invited to take either test were: Stephen Bailey, Braden Gaskin, Abigale Ferguson, Danielle Garcia, Eric Hobbs, Antonia Jacobse, Cody Leskin, Collin MacPherson, Caitlyn Nicholson, Dwight Philip, Caeli Tegan, Jeremiah Temple and Austin Young. Those highlighted were recognized at the state level.

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