Schools of Choice: Every student treated as gifted, talented at Sunset Park school

02/09/2011 12:00 AM

02/10/2011 8:18 AM

Sunset Park sets out to teach all students like they're gifted.

South Carolina's gifted and talented program generally identifies outstanding students by second-grade test scores.

Most schools pull those children out of class several times a week to take on more challenging work with specially trained teachers.

At Sunset Park Center for Accelerated Studies, every teacher has earned, or is working toward, gifted and talented certification.

Instead of pull-out lessons, gifted and talented students attend a full-day program.

Students who haven't been identified as gifted and talented still benefit, Principal Tammy White said, because teachers are trained to treat them as if they are.

"We believe all children have gifts and talents," she said, "and it's our jobs as educators to bring those out."

One way teachers do that is through enrichment clusters - groups of students who gather every Friday afternoon for an activity of their choosing.

Twice a year, students can pick from dance, photography, origami, cross-stitching, fantasy basketball, culinary arts, GPS-assisted scavenger hunting and other activities that teachers create.

While having fun and making new friends, students indulge their interests and apply what they learn in class - there's quite a bit of math involved in fantasy basketball.

"Kids are coming together because of a common interest," White said.

The school is also one of four Rock Hill elementary schools that still offer a foreign language.

All students get daily German lessons.

Three years ago, district leaders were looking for a way to boost Sunset Park's falling enrollment, but weren't sure what type of program might attract families.

They considered complaints from parents of gifted and talented students who weren't happy about limited pull-out lessons.

When officials heard that gifted and talented programs were among the most popular magnet schools across the nation, they decided to give it a shot.

Since reopening with "choice," White said, Sunset Park's enrollment has jumped 78 percent.

Sunset Park Center for Accelerated Studies

Address: 1036 Ogden Road

Phone: 803-981-1260


Principal: Tammy White,

Number of students: 470 (45 percent white; 48 percent black; 4 percent Latino; 1 percent American Indian)

Students receiving free or reduced-price lunch: 57 percent

Open houses

Rock Hill schools of choice are holding open houses on the following dates:

Elementary schools

Richmond Drive, Spanish language focus, 6 p.m. Thursday

Northside Elementary School of the Arts, arts integration focus, 6 p.m. Feb. 22

Sunset Park Center for Accelerated Studies, 6 p.m. Feb. 24

The Children's School, Montessori Program, 6 p.m. Feb. 28. The Children's School is also open to 3- and 4-year-olds on a tuition basis.

Middle schools

Saluda Trail, International Baccalaureate (IB) Middle Years Programme, 6:30 p.m. Tuesday

Sullivan, International Baccalaureate (IB) Middle Years Programme, 6:30 p.m. Feb. 17

How to apply

Enrollment in Rock Hill's seven schools of choice will be done on a first-come, first-served basis.

Now - Applications are available at the district's website - Or pick one up at the schools or district office.

Monday - First day applications for all schools of choice will be accepted at the district office, 660 N. Anderson Road.

March 31 - Deadline for submitting an application.

April 30 - Date by which parents will receive notification of acceptance.

Information: 803-981-1000

Join the Discussion

The Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Terms of Service