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A Place to Shine

Gifted and Advanced Pathway puts students on road to success

Adams 12 Five Star Schools provides a robust pathway for gifted and advanced students to thrive and succeed starting at kindergarten and continuing through high school graduation.

For parents of identified gifted and advanced students, the district offers numerous options for them to get the academic challenge they need but also have their unique social-emotional needs nurtured.

The district’s Gifted and Advanced Pathway is designed to meet students wherever they are enrolled. Some students find a home at Hulstrom K-8, the district’s gifted magnet school, while others thrive in their neighborhood school.

“Regardless of where the student attends, each school has programming designed to develop their potential,” Dr. Lynn Saltzgaver, Director of Advanced Academic & Gifted Services said. “We want to give our gifted learners the opportunity to grow and thrive in any school environment.”

Saltzgaver adds all schools frame their gifted and advanced curriculum to meet the unique culture and diversity of the students the school serves.

“The richness and diversity of the experiences of students, family and staff within each school community makes gifted programming come alive for students,” she said.

Hulstrom, the district magnet school, offers a curriculum from kindergarten through eighth grade that is specifically designed to meet the needs of both identified gifted and advanced students or students who may not be formally identified as gifted but in need of specialized programming offered at a magnet school.

Legacy High School graduate Nathan George and Horizon High School junior Kaitlin Bailey are examples of students who accessed district gifted and advanced programming through Hulstrom and used it to accelerate their academic careers.

George, now a sophomore music education student at the University of Colorado Boulder, said his time at Hulstrom gave him an intertwined, well-rounded education.

“Hulstrom did a phenomenal job of developing students’ knowledge and skills in all subjects,” he said. “In addition to this, they gave us exposure to numerous other fields in our electives and extracurriculars, enabling us to choose the activities we were most interested in.”

From Hulstrom, he moved on to Legacy High School where he was accepted into the Legacy 2000 (L2K) STEM-focused
program.

“Overall, Hulstrom taught me to strive for a standard of excellence, a good work ethic, and to try and have fun with everything I did,” George said. “That is something that has carried not only through high school but now to my collegiate life as well.”

Bailey not only found challenge at Hulstrom, she also found support from teachers as well as new friends.

“I never had peers who had similar interests to me, and so I struggled mightily with finding other kids to befriend or talk to at all,” she said. “However, at Hulstrom, I found many other kids who were very similar to me, and had similar interests, so for the first time I was able to make profound and lasting friendships.”

She is now enrolled in the Students of Academic Rigor (SOAR) Program at Horizon High School. Bailey said that the gifted and advanced curriculum at Hulstrom prepared her for the challenges of an advanced high school academic program. She is considering a possible career in radiology.

“Because we were already helped along to a high level of academic achievement, moving on to basically any honors program felt like a natural next step,” Bailey said.

Dr. Colleen Urlik, Principal of Hulstrom, indicates that about 92 percent of Hulstrom students select a program or high school of choice and it’s an emphasis of each
students eighth grade year.

“Our students enter into their ninth grade year with an incredible sense of agency and confidence as they have selected their next steps based on their strengths, interests, passions and goals,” Urlik said.

From Hulstrom to Legacy, George looks back on, not only the tools he was given to succeed, but the friendships and connections he made along the way.

“There are not many districts where teachers remember their students and are excited to see them even if they had them in class more than 10 years ago,” he said. “There are not many
districts where graduated students are not only willing, but excited to come back and serve/volunteer to give back to their community. However, I can say Adams 12 Five Star Schools is one of these districts because I have experienced all of these things. The teachers and friends I had through my years of education helped shape me to be the person I am today.”

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