May 27, 2018
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Bangor kids honored for test achievement

By Heather Steeves, BDN Staff

BANGOR, Maine — Six Bangor students from grades two through eight recently were given awards for gifted children by The Johns Hopkins University Center for Talented Youth for achievement in taking tests such as the SAT.

“It’s an impressive result for sure. We have a long-standing relationship with CTY. It’s something we’ve promoted for many years,” said Paul Butler, the director of gifted and talented for Bangor schools. “We’re not surprised by the results; we hope our children do well.”

Butler attributed the achievement to high expectations and to families.

Five of the children came from the William S. Cohen School, the other from the James F. Doughty School.

“I think the schools are amazing; they have great, amazing teachers who do a wonderful job. I have all the respect in the world for the middle-school teachers,” said teacher and gifted and talented coordinator at the Cohen and Doughty Schools Tracy Vassiliev. She said the children are “go-getters” with great drive.

“A lot of ambitious kids. We have several who take advantage of the opportunity, some chose not to. It can be intimidating to take the SAT — they take it with a high school group on a Saturday,” Vassiliev said.

One of those “ambitious kids” is Bangor student Andrew Ye, one of four sixth-graders in the nation to receive the Top In Nation Award for math.

“He is very good at math; we noticed that since he was very young, he’s very strong in math. He’s interested in it,” said Ye’s mother, BingBing Li. She said her son also swims, plays tennis, played piano since he was 5 years old and “he just skateboarded home a minute ago.”

“He didn’t even dress up for it,” Li laughed. The family was in such a hurry to get to Colby College for the award ceremony there was no time for formality.

Ye said he didn’t study for the test, “you just have to know the stuff and do it.” The 12-year-old isn’t sure what he would like to be when he grows up, but said he’s always been interested in math.

Children at participating schools go through a screening process before they qualify to take the above-grade-level tests, such as the SAT.

“Students who perform in the 95 percentile and up in the Terra Nova [test] have the potential to be nominated for the CTY,” Butler said. “It’s an honor to be nominated.”

After the screening, the children who perform well may then take tests, such as the SAT, ACT and the SCAT, which for younger children in grades two through six. If those children continue to do well, they qualify for additional benefits, such as Johns Hopkins summer programs.

“I’ve had a couple students take advantage of that and they really enjoyed that — they had a great summer,” Vassiliev said.

Vassiliev mentioned another benefit the middle schoolers reap from the rigorous testing.

“I think that if a student is mentally prepared to take the test, they should. It does expose them to the SATs prior to when it really counts, as a junior,” she said.

Abigail McCarthy’s mom, Sharon, agrees. She brings Abigail to dance — tap, ballet, jazz and Irish step — and music lessons. Her daughter plays piano, violin and guitar.

“I try to get my kids to do a lot of mental extracurricular stuff. I think it is good to be well-rounded,” Sharon McCarthy said.

Abigail McCarthy has been invited to the award ceremonies for the past three years, her mother said.

“She’s a very good student, all A’s — that’s just the way she is,” Sharon McCarthy said of her 12-year-old.

Area students honored at Bates College on May 16 for SCAT certificate for high honors, grades two through six, were Robert Levasseur, Bangor; Abigail McCarthy, Bangor; Kalie McGuirl, Thomaston; Walker Ranney, Thomaston; Kathrina Turner, Hampden; Andrew Ye, Bangor; and Charlotte Zelz, Bangor.

Students honored at Bates College on May 16 for SAT or ACT certificate for high honors, grades seven and eight, were Madeleine Coffey, Bangor; Mateo Davis, Camden; Frances Howard-Girard, Rockport; Karen Kitt, Camden; Lauren Nalley, Bangor; Jack Orne, Camden; Alden Parker, Rockport; Sean Pierce, Camden; and Clark Thomas, Rockport.

Andrew Ye took a Top In Nation Award for math. The awards are determined by SCAT test scores.

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