Young people who are the caliber of those selected for the DeBusk Enrichment Center for Academically Talented Scholars (DECATS) are the greatest resource that our nation has for the future. The overriding purpose of the program is to identify and challenge young scholars at a critical period in their lives. The program seeks to make a direct impact on the learning environment of those selected for the program, as well as positively influence the lives of other students with whom the program participants are in contact with in their home schools.
Another purpose of the program is to encourage schools to become more aware of the unique and individual needs of these gifted and talented students and meet these in the curriculum. The program is designed to be a valuable partner, not a critic or competitor, of the elementary schools participating in the identification of these DECATS eminent young scholars.
Enrollment for the program is open to Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston Catholic school students who are completing the third through the sixth grades by June. The DECATS program is limited to one three-week session. To qualify as a Distinguished Nominee (and thus be eligible for the program's final selection), one must score in the ninety-fifth percentile (composite) or ninety-seventh percentile (subject) on a nationally-normed, standardized achievement test, such as the Stanford Achievement Test, and be nominated by the principal.
These certified Distinguished Nominees, having presented evidence of their achievement test score at the ninety-fifth percentile or above on their school's official nomination form, and they are eligible to make formal application to the program. Final selection as an eminent young scholar is dependent upon the application information, academic transcript reflecting a commitment to excellence, two recommendations forms filled out by adults other than family members, and a recommendation from the school principal and teacher attesting to the scholar's behavior and attitude toward learning. It is ultimately the principal's decision as to whether or not the young person is fit for the DECATS program, regardless of whether or not they meet the academic requirements.
Academically gifted students need:
To be challenged by activities which enable the scholar to operate cognitively and affectively at complex levels of thought and feeling.
To be challenged through group and individual work which demonstrates process and product outcomes.
To be challenged by discussions among intellectual peers.
To be challenged by the opportunity to see inter-relationships in all bodies of knowledge.
To be challenged by special courses in the scholar's area of strength and interest which accelerate the pace and depth of content presented.
To be challenged by greater exposure to new areas of learning within and without the formal school structure and to develop more fully the following skills: critical thinking, creative thinking, research, problem-solving, coping, exceptionality, decision-making, and leadership.
To be challenged to apply their abilities to real problems in the real world.
The DECATS Program is a three-week session. The program convenes on Monday with all classes beginning at 9 a.m. Courses continue for three weeks until the third Friday. Scholars must attend the full three weeks. The classes will meet for six hours each day, Monday through Friday (9 a.m. - 3:10 p.m.). Scholars will have more than one hundred contact hours of classroom instruction. A Scholar/Parent Orientation and Open House are held the Saturday before DECATS kicks off. The Closing Ceremony for parents and scholars will take place on the last day of DECATS. Scholars will be dismissed at the end of the Closing Ceremony (half-day).
Scholars select three enrichment courses during the three-week session. While directly related to the regular archdiocesan school curriculum, this type of enrichment program, to be effective, addresses the need for a qualitatively differentiated education program for the academically gifted child. This program provides specific guidelines for the enrichment of all aspects of the curriculum: content, process, product, as well as the learning environment.
Using the Triad process developed by Dr. Joseph Renzulli and emphasizing Level III activities, the DECATS program includes the curricular areas of literature, drama, social studies, mathematics, science, computer science and technology, creative writing, journalism, art, music, physical education, and creative problem-solving. The affective development of the gifted child is directly addressed as scholars explore the implications of their talents in a required guidance course entitled "Perspectives." Leadership and positive risk-taking skills are taught and encouraged. Challenging work is accomplished in an informal atmosphere. Scholars wear casual clothes. There is no homework and scholars bring packed lunches.
DECATS takes place at St. Laurence Catholic School in Sugar Land, TX. All classrooms are fully air-conditioned. There is access to all school facilities including gymnasium, computer lab(s), library, cafeteria, playing field and playground. Additionally, the cultural and scientific resources of the Sugar Land and Houston areas are within easy reach of the campus. An extended day program is offered in the morning beginning at 7:30 a.m. and in the afternoon until 4:30 p.m.
The program is taught by distinguished professional Catholic and non-Catholic school educators who have noteworthy achievements in their areas of expertise. Maintaining a 10:1 ratio of scholars to faculty is a priority of the program.
The program is underwritten through the financial generosity of Mr. Manuel DeBusk and the DeBusk Foundation (www.debuskfoundation.org), dedicated to the education of elementary gifted children. It is fully supported by the superintendent of Catholic schools of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston.
Fees and Scholarships
The cost of this innovative program is approximately $1000.00. The DeBusk Foundation provides a scholarship to each and every scholar for more than two-thirds of that cost. Tuition is $ 600 plus $20 registration fee. There is an additional fee for the Extended Challenge Program, which is open from 7:30 – 9:00 a.m. and 3:00 – 4:30 p.m. The fee for Extended Challenge is a flat rate of $150.00 for the use of the program during the 3 weeks or $75.00 for just morning care or afternoon care. Extended Care payments will need to be paid at the start of the program along with their application fee.