HANCOCK COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - When it comes to education, getting a head start gives kids a huge advantage. Some students in Hancock County have been given the chance to take that head start, and run with it.
25 seventh graders at Bay-Waveland Middle School have been selected to take part in this year's Duke University's prestigious Talent Identification Program (TIP).
The Duke TIP program focuses on identifying, recognizing and supporting students with strong intellectual abilities. To be invited to participate, students must score in the 95 percentile or higher on the MCT II state test.
Dr. Cherie Labat, who has been the principal at Bay-Waveland for more than eight years, is more than proud of the success of her students.
"It's a great accomplishment for our students to be recognized for their achievement," said Labat.
"The Duke TIP program allows them the opportunity to become National Merit Scholars, and an opportunity to participate in summer academic programs. It could open doors for summer studies and scholarships."
Despite the success at her school, Labat does not take credit for the academic success of her students. She says that honor belongs to her teaching staff.
"I have great teachers who have really worked hard to improve the rigors in all subject areas. We have worked professionally as becoming better educators and we are student centered."
Labat said the feeling of accomplishment should be felt around the school by both the students and the teachers.
"I'm very proud of my students and my teachers. Our teachers put their hearts and souls into improving the education of our students."
The Duke TIP program was founded in 1980 as a non-profit organization to identify gifted students around the world, and provide them innovative programming to support their development. Duke TIP holds two talents searches a year and also offers summer programs, online courses and independent learning resources to qualifying students in the fourth, fifth and seventh grades.
The 25 students honored at Bay-Waveland Middle School make up 15 percent of the seventh grade class. Those honored are: Zachary Haas, Preston Farrell, Maxwell Lewis, Richard Powell, Tyler McElveen, Oliver Naquin, Shelby McColley, Kaysea O'Neal, Zachery Loftin, and Frank Reyes; back row, left to right, are Daniel Eberhart, John Bowman, Anna Haynes, Kayla LaFontaine, Marion Pohl, Ayanna Singleton, Avery Lyons, Grace Leschorn, Cameron Adams, Charlie Luttrell, Lillian Le, Nadia Peyton, Leandro France, Landon Thomas and Bennie Stinson.