Friday, August 20, 2010


    Twenty scholars from Galapagos Charter School, 3814 West Iowa Street, attended Northwestern University’s elite summer program for gifted students. Galapagos is a kindergarten through 8th grade college preparatory elementary school program focused on providing a high-quality education, ensuring its students become responsible, productive, college-educated adults capable of adapting to and prospering in a changing global economy. The school serves a population traditionally underserved by the public school system. Of Galapagos students’ families, 93% qualified for the Federal Free and Reduced Lunch Program last year.
    For three weeks this summer, Galapagos scholars traveled to Northwestern University’s campus to participate in the Center for Talent Development Summer Program. Students in grades K-8 admitted to the program took enrichment courses that deepen their knowledge in areas of study they are passionate about, as well as interact with a diverse cultural community of their peers. Another goal of the program is to prevent a problem educators call “summer learning loss.”
    “At Galapagos, we understand that inequity of participation by low-income students in summer enrichment programs is a significant factor in contributing to the achievement gap,” says Michael Lane, CEO of Galapagos Charter School. “Participating in Northwestern University’s elite summer program is important to our scholars because it is a fun and challenging learning opportunity which contributes to their overall academic success.”
    The recent TIME magazine cover story, The Case Against Summer Vacation, by David Von Drehle highlights the serious problem of summer learning loss and cites research showing “while students made similar progress during the school year regardless of economic status, the better-off kids held steady or continued to advance during the summer – while disadvantaged students fell back. By the end of the grammar school, low-income students have fallen nearly three grade levels behind.”
    Michael Lane adds, “Most of our scholars enter our school two to three years behind grade level, making accelerated academic growth a necessity and not a luxury. As educators, we have a responsibility to educate and empower these scholars to be able to be competitive down the road for college admissions and beyond in their lives.”
    The social growth this summer program provides is just as important as academic growth on a scholar’s life, Lane emphasizes. Students are exposed to a different environment, challenged to interact with peers from all over Illinois, and learn in a university setting.
    Michael, a 4th grade student at Galapagos, when asked what the program means to him, said, “I was very nervous at first because I was going to a different place and I was meeting new people; but I had a lot of fun and I made a lot of new friends. When it was over, I wanted to go back, so I wanted to get good grades in school. I know this is an inspiration for other kids because it makes them want to be successful and go to Northwestern, just like me.”
    For information regarding admission and course offerings at Galapagos Charter School, call 773/384-9400 or visit

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