Brookland-Cayce High assistant principal Erin FitzGerald recalls how, when growing up, she would cringe when asked if she preferred math or English.
In her mind, it was an unnecessary distinction.
“I loved both,” she said. “We should encourage our students to excel and find value in all areas of learning.”
That belief is at the heart of a new academically advanced program being launched at the Lexington 2 school this year.
The four-year QUEST program is a comprehensive school within a school that challenges students in science, math and the humanities rather than placing emphasis on one area.
Admission is based on grades, an interview and a written essay. Students also must have completed Algebra I and English I before the start of ninth grade.
“The name QUEST was chosen to represent a journey — one that includes rich academic and cultural discoveries,” FitzGerald said.
The program includes traditional subject areas like English, world history, science, calculus and foreign languages. But cross-curricular and multi-unit exercises are incorporated into the instruction to facilitate more intense learning.
“QUEST instruction is not about breadth of material. Instead, it focuses on depth,” FitzGerald said, adding students generally value instruction more when they can make connections between various subjects.
The class work will be complemented with outside experiences, including college tours, cultural events, field studies and community service activities.
The program also will offer a QUEST Parent Alliance using mini-workshops that focus on the specific needs of gifted students and are designed to inform parents about course expectations.
“For students to grow to their potential, we must form an alliance that includes the parents,” FitzGerald said.
Brookland-Cayce freshman Bailey Rowden said she’s excited about the opportunity to pursue her various story interests. She’s considering a career in the medical field but also is interested in foreign language.
“I wanted to get the most I possibly could out of high school,” she said. “I thought the program would help me with that.”
A classmate, Aaron Eish, is eager to take his first steps in graphic design but also is looking forward to some of the field trips and other creative learning approaches.
“I’ll probably look into what I might be doing further in the (graphics) field after I have the class,” he said.
Thirty-three freshmen make up the inaugural QUEST class, and participants will have completed at least 10 college advanced placement courses by the time they finish high school.
Reach Rantin at (803) 771-8306.