As hundreds of balloons filled the sky over Gary A. Ransdell Hall on Saturday, the ambitions and dreams of just as many children went with them.
A balloon release celebration marked the end Super Saturdays, a program of The Center for Gifted Studies. Offered twice a year, once in the fall and again in the winter, Super Saturdays is a four-week program that allows students in grades 1 through 8 to continue learning in topics that interest them outside the normal weekday classroom.
Tracy Inman, associate director for the center, said a wide variety of class options are available to students, ranging from music and performance to science and history.
“We want these kids thinking early on they can do anything they set their minds to,” Inman said.
After returning from their final class session, students all met at Ransdell Hall to receive biodegradable balloons and refreshments.
Julia Roberts, executive director of the center, counted down from three and told students when the countdown reached zero to yell out their dreams as the balloons floated skyward.
“Do you aspire to be an engineer, a dancer?” Roberts said. “Whatever you want to be, I want you to shout it out.”
Students from 38 Kentucky school districts, and nine from Tennessee, attended the final Saturday.
The final day of the winter session also marked the beginning of Gifted Education Week in Kentucky.
Roberts said the state has always been concerned with student proficiency, making sure student learning is at the proper grade level. Programs such as Super Saturdays are important in cultivating students who are above grade level, she said.
“Proficiency isn’t a goal for these children,” Roberts said. “We must develop talent.”
Roberts encouraged parents to speak to teachers, principals and leaders in their communities to tell them that gifted programs are important.
Roselle Muse brought her daughter, Leanda, to attend her first Super Saturday session and said she believed the program benefited her daughter.
Leanda took classes in performance, which culminated with her and other students putting on a fairy tale mash-up play.
“I think it’s good, it expands her imagination,” Muse said. “It teaches her to think in different ways. She gets to be with kids who have the same desire for learning.”