What is AGS?

AGS is a totally unique experience, designed for any Arkansas junior with exceptional abilities, creativity, and the maturity to benefit from a total immersion in a Socratic learning environment. It is a four-week summer residential program, fully State funded, with no tests, no grades, no credit, Saturday classes, concerts, art exhibits, drama performances, nationally known speakers, various film series, and many opportunities to learn on your own as well as from a distinguished faculty, staff, and one another.  It is neither an acceleration of high school nor an anticipation of college. Its curriculum focuses on theory rather than practice, on the paradigms of modern thought and their grand implications rather than data acquisition.  AGS is a pacesetter for national standards of excellence and effectiveness in the teaching of gifted and talented secondary school students.  There is an attempt to draw together and integrate all fields of endeavor and knowledge in order to counter the usual specialization and fragmentation in education. Although there is a recognized need for mastery of each field, specific ideas will undoubtedly change with time; thus the AGS curriculum is focused on the intellectual skills involved in each field. The AGS is an atmosphere of intellectual, cultural, social, and personal excitement. There is an intellectual intensity and enthusiasm that combines with high expectations that lead to heated but enlightening discussions on almost every topic of significance which permeates the whole campus and runs non-stop for the full four weeks. This atmosphere is designed to arouse curiosity and to inspire students to use and to develop their intellectual capacities to the maximum.  The AGS is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the student to meet with equally qualified students from all over the state, with a specially selected faculty and staff, and with national caliber speakers in an ideal campus environment. The AGS is a challenge to students to maximize the development of their special abilities and talents, to celebrate the joy of learning for its own sake, to integrate and use knowledge in creative ways, to be futuristic problem-solvers, and to assess their special roles as leaders and fully contributing members of society. The whole program is intended to nurture the independent thinkers and learners.

When is the School?

Each summer, the AGS is in session for four weeks from mid-June to the end of July. There is no break, but there is visitation on Saturday afternoons and Sundays. Due to the integrated nature and the intensity of the curriculum and events, participants must agree to attend for the full four weeks. Thus, it will be necessary for each applicant to make a difficult choice if he or she is accepted to other programs which will conflict with the dates of the AGS. It would not be fair to qualified applicants who have been denied acceptance for others to come without participating for the full time.

Who are the Faculty Members?

Faculty members are selected by a committee designated by the Arkansas Department of Education. They are chosen for their specialized abilities and knowledge; their possession of qualities that inspire and motivate young people; their enthusiasm for their own scholarly, professional, and personal development; and their skills at engaging students in significant inquiry. The composition of the faculty is extremely diverse; some are professional artists or performers, some are public figures, some are college professors, and some are from secondary school faculties. The faculty members all feel that many of their most significant interactions with students are at the movies, in the dorms, and at the snackbar. The classroom is often made even more exciting by the daily interactions in the faculty and student lounges.

How much does it cost?

The AGS is fully funded by the Arkansas General Assembly and there is NO CHARGE for tuition, room and board, or for classroom materials. Participants will be responsible only for getting transportation to and from the school and for any personal expenses such as snack food, clothes washing and drying, etc. There is no charge for use of any of the recreational facilities, libraries, or attendance at special events.

Who should apply?

You should apply if you *are a high school junior within the state of Arkansas. *have exceptional abilities and creativity. *are self-motivated and have the maturity to thrive in an environment where everyone is exceptional and where there are no external rewards such as grades or course credits. *are willing to attend for the full four weeks of the program. *feel that you would personally benefit from the program (even if you are an underachiever, rebel, or have a reserved personality).

Do not apply if grades are more important to you than learning, if social activities are more enriching to you than intellectual and cultural activities, if watching soaps and cruising are your favorite summertime activities, if you never take time to read a novel, if you hate having others challenge your ideas, if you feel threatened by social and political controversy or by others who think differently than you do.

When do you apply?

Application forms will generally be available from the counselor at your school sometime just before the Thanksgiving  Holiday break and must be completed and given back to you counselor in time for the school to send in its nominations by early-February. See your counselor, teacher, coordinator of gifted programs, or principal for more specific information about the process in your school. If there is no information on applications available by mid-December, please write or call the Arkansas Department of Education. You are encouraged to make your desire to apply known to your counselor.

How does the selection process work?

Some local schools find it necessary to pre-select the applicants from their schools as there are many more than can be accommodated. You will need to ask your counselor about he specific process in your school. The nominations from your school will be screened by committees appointed by the Arkansas Department of Education. It is important that there be documented evidence of your special abilities in one of the eight areas. You may apply in as many as three areas. If you apply in one of the performance areas (Art, Drama, Instrumental Music, or Choral Music), you will be required to audition for an audition team. Applicants to the other areas (Natural Sciences, Mathematics, Social Sciences, and Language Arts) will not be interviewed. For all applicants a screening committee will evaluate your credentials, your school's recommendations, your written essay, and other evidence in your application. You will be evaluated according to the area of our first choice and IF you are not selected in that category, your application will be passed to the committees evaluating your second- and third-choice areas. As more applicants are qualified than can be accepted, every effort is made to attain a balance by geographic location, school size, race, and sex. You will be notified by personal letter in April of the status of your application. Alternates may be called, sometimes as late as the opening day of the school, to fill vacated positions, but the roster of students will be mostly set by mid-May.