A gifted young lobbyist

Congratulations to gutsy young lobbyist Leah Gardner. We hope she was successful in swaying state lawmakers to support more money for programs for gifted and talented students.

Leah is a third-grader at Orchard Park Elementary School in Fort Mill and a gifted and talented student herself. Among those talents is public speaking.

Leah was chosen by her teacher to speak before about 85 people last week at a breakfast sponsored by the S.C. Consortium for Gifted Education. Several state lawmakers were in the audience, including Reps. Mick Mulvaney, R-Indian Land, and Carl Gullick, R-Lake Wylie.

Mulvaney said Leah "was by far the most effective lobbyist that I have come across this year." Gullick credited her with hitting a "home run."

We not only praise Leah for her poise and ability to win over a crowd but also salute the cause she is supporting. The Consortium states that gifted and talented students already know 50 percent to 80 percent of what they will be taught in a year on their first day of school. They also are more likely to retain the content of what they learn if they are taught at two to three times faster than their classmates.

South Carolina must ensure that low-performing students are brought along at a pace appropriate to their skills. But if the state also wants to nurture its highly skilled students, it must invest in programs that will give them the scholastic challenges they need to reach their full potential.

If there is any doubt that gifted and talented students are both eager and ready to take on those challenges, just look at Leah Gardner.