Talent Search takes LC seventh graders to space center

Lawrence County seventh graders who participate in the Tuscumbia Talent Search program pause for a photo outside the Huntsville Space and Rocket Center. The group attended a STEM learning field trip at the center on Oct. 29.

Select seventh graders from each of Lawrence County’s four high schools attended a science, technology, electronics and mathematics (STEM) educational field trip to the Huntsville Space and Rocket Center on Oct. 29, thanks to the Tuscumbia Talent Search program.

Seventh-grade students who are a part of the program enjoyed a day at the space center, which included activities like a rocket-launch simulation, a film featuring the Apollo 11 landing and a force of gravity simulation.

“It was a fun cultural experience, but it also offered some STEM career exploration too,” Talent Search Coordinator Amber Fenn said. “We had one student who really impressed us. She was just very excited and talked about how much she loved Talent Search.”

The student Fenn mentioned, Cameron Theodorou, who attends Lawrence County High School discussed how much she appreciated the program with her advisors and fellow class mates.

“Kids don’t really understand the benefits of Talent Search. They think we just come to meetings, but we get to do trips like this,” she told Fenn and her Talent Search advisors.

Talent Search is a federally-funded program for high school students, which begins for most students in the seventh grade. Once a student is accepted into the program, the student will remain in the program until they are seniors, Fenn explained.

The program’s main objective is to prepare students for college. Advisors help students find a college that is right for them based on their career choice, whether the students decide to pursue a four-year degree or a two-year technical degree.

“Talent Search is a support system in the schools to help the school counselors,” Cindy Stewart, the director of Talent Search, said. She explained that the program helps students address questions like which school would be the right fit according to their career choice, or which avenues are available to help students pay for college.

The program is available to each of the four high schools in Lawrence County—East Lawrence High, Hatton, Lawrence County High School and R.A. Hubbard. Four Talent Search advisors are assigned to each of the high schools to offer college and career guidance, accompany the students on trips like the county’s seventh graders took last month, or just to be an additional resource for students who need reassurance.

“The advisors really build a relationship with the kids because they’ve had them since the seventh grade,” Fenn said. She explained that the advisors meet with the students at their respective high schools monthly. It happens often that a student in the program will even call their advisor after their high school graduation for help with adjusting to college life or to ask questions about career readiness, she said.

Advisors for Lawrence County’s schools include Beverly Bentley for Lawrence County High and Moulton Middle School, Susann Sullivan, who assists students at East Lawrence High and East Lawrence Middle, Carl Collins, the advisor for R.A. Hubbard, and Audrey Mashburn for Hatton High School.

While these advisors also attend field trips with their students, these trips aren’t only for seventh graders in the program.

 Collins said he recently took a road trip with Talent Search students to tour prospective colleges—the University of Alabama at Birmingham, the University of Alabama, and Mississippi State University.

Trips like these are free to the students and their school system, Stewart added.

“Students are never out of pocket anything,” she said. “Talent Search reimburses the schools for gas, substitutes or chaperones, and other trip expenses.”

Talent Search received an additional $40,000 in STEM money this year, which made the trip to the Space and Rocket Center possible, she said. The program is funded to serve at least 592 students each year.

If a child isn’t accepted into the program their seventh-grade year doesn’t mean they can’t get involved with Talent Search before they graduate. Though most recruiting does occur for students on that grade level, applications are still accepted among eighth, ninth and tenth graders, Stewart said.

Talent Search is a competitive program, and though students have already been selected for the 2019-20 school year, students interested in participating may sign up on a waiting list for next year, Fenn said.

For more information about Talent Search, contact 256-331-5342 or email afenna@nwscc.edu.


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