Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The EPIC program

The other day we attended our first official parent/teacher conference. Natalie's Kindergarten teacher had all good things to say about our little shining star, and in fact confirmed what we already know: that she's smarter than either one of us. We discussed enrolling her in the "gifted program" soon. This got me to reminiscing about my own experience with the gifted program back in my elementary school days.

There are only four things I remember from my years in elementary school:

1. Getting hit in the eye by a rogue snowball.
2. Witnessing my dog, Dusty, get pummeled by a car on the day of the science fair
3. The event at the school dance that caused every boy at Northeast Elementary to enter puberty simultaneously.
4. The EPIC program.

Okay, let's take these one by one. First, the snowball. to this day I don't know if it was intended for me, but I ended up with a scratched cornea and bad vision in my right eye to this day. If you, the thrower, are out there reading this, thanks a whole lot, buttwipe.

Second, the death of Dusty. It was my first encounter with death. Dusty hated kids. He repeatedly tried to eat me. But seeing him lying under that Michelin, tongue hanging out, eyes stoned cold, will be forever cemented in my head far more than the schematic of the inside of the Space Shuttle that I threw together for the fair.

Next, the dance. In a classic tale, a plain, homely, barely-noticed girl named Tina (I think) managed to get a makeover of Hollywood proportions in preparation for that night, showed up for the 8th grade dance, and caused every boy in the room to simultaneously grab the nearest helium balloon and position it strategically in front of his belt buckle.

And now, to the EPIC program. The only educational part of elementary school that I actually remember. I think I remember it so vividly because it was so traumatic. Several students were taken from class on Wednesday and bussed to a different school in town (Ivy Drive, the "school where bullies were made") for a day of advanced learning. I believe part of this was learning to cope with the repeated tormenting we encountered whenever we showed got off the short bus at the school parking lot.

But I have to admit, I actually learned a few things in the EPIC program. EPIC, by the way, stood for "Enrichment Program for Intellectually gifted Children". These were the kids that were bored in the normal classroom, showed an obvious tendency for advanced learning, or (like me) displayed absolutely no skill whatsoever in gym class. Each Wednesday, once we escaped the bonds of the typical social studies curriculum and made it through the gauntlet of the Ivy Drive Bullies, we were able to think freely, command respect from our peers, and screw around with a cutting edge Radio Shack TRS-80 computer all day.

I hope that Natalie's experience is as fulfilling.

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