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Record numbers for high school academy

8/12/2012

By DIANE GASPER-O'BRIEN

dobrien@dailynews.net

A record 40 students will show up on the Fort Hays State University campus this fall as the fourth class of the Kansas Academy of Mathematics and Science.

KAMS -- a partnership among the Kansas State Legislature, the Kansas Department of Education and the Kansas Board of Regents -- is a premier academic high school program in which high school juniors and seniors live on campus and take college-level instruction while doing research and engaging in various leadership, civic and extracurricular activities.

The Regents this year approved increasing the maximum number of new incoming students to 40 Kansans and eight international or national students.

The 40 new students this year will bring the total number of KAMS students on campus for the 2012-13 school year to 70.

This year's class nearly doubles that of the inaugural class of 24 in 2009-10.

"Being able to provide the opportunity to more students is awesome," said Roger Schieferecke, associate director for student services and academic adviser for KAMS.

The academy, under the direction of Ron Keller, collaborates with Regents universities to encourage KAMS graduates to complete their undergraduate college education in Kansas.

FHSU, of course, hopes it is one of those universities on the KAMS graduates' lists. Of last year's 20 graduates, eight are continuing their education at FHSU.

One of those is Jonathan Folkerts from Hays, who applied for KAMS because he "wasn't being as challenged as I wanted to be in high school."

Even after being accepted into KAMS, Folkerts said he hadn't been planning to attend college at FHSU -- until his overall KAMS experience.

"It was a really good program; the classes were interesting and challenging," Folkerts said of his two years on campus. "And it was fun to live in a dorm environment with other high school students."

Folkerts, who will be classified as a junior at FHSU this fall, said he also got involved in some organizations that he would not have in high school.

He joined the Aikido Club, a Japanese martial arts club.

"I had never done anything like that, and it was a good experience," Folkerts said. "I probably would never have gotten into it, and it's a good way to stay healthy.

"I really like the problem solving that comes with the math and science," he said. "I enjoy getting to work with numbers and finding that solution."

Schieferecke said that is often the attitude of KAMS grads who stay on at FHSU.

"They like the institution," Schieferecke said, "and some have been working on research projects for two years and have created relationships with faculty and want to continue that process."