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Talented and Gifted Program Implemented

Chance (Grade 10 / Voyageurs Expeditionary High School) Originally published May 2004

Voyageurs Expeditionary High School (VEHS), a new charter high school in Bemidji, opened this previous fall, is taking part in a renaissance of extended learning programs. One component that is helping fulfill this mission is the use of a Talented and Gifted (TAG) program. This academic extension provides students with focused interests and talents a chance to experience their passion in an alternative environment. VEHS, only seven months old, has been hard at work refining the TAG program so that the experience will extend to every student that has personal interests outside of the traditional school setting.

The person hired for spearheading this program is Mary Clemenson. Mary, a native of North Dakota, has lived in Bemidji for 16 years, with a brief stint in Boston. While in Boston she earned her Master’s Degree in Musical Composition at the New England Conservatory, one of the top five music schools in the country. Her job includes exploring our community for student opportunities and supporting the staff in their efforts to provide new and interesting curriculum. She is energetic about her task; she has been busy coordinating a summer Writer’s Workshop with Will Weaver, a renowned author, along with extended learning opportunities with local experts. Mary Clemenson feels that “working with students at VEHS is a dream job. They are eager to learn and try new experiences. Their questions are insightful and they comprehend complex concepts. They are talented, intelligent and well motivated. What teacher could ask for more? It is a privilege to work in such a supportive environment.” Mary’s plans for next year are numerous. For starters, she will work closely with other members of the VEHS staff as the school intends to incorporate the TAG program more directly into the curriculum next year. We will be applying for a grant to host a photographer as an artist in residence, begin a yearbook, continue our supplemental music program, link up with the Headwaters Science Center, expand our National History Day experience, and many more as need arises. Voyageurs, because it is an ELOB (Expeditionary Learning Outward Bound) school, strongly supports programs that provide a good opportunity for experiential learning and self-direction.

Jaime, a ninth grade student at VEHS says, “I think Mary really brought something new to Voyageurs that no one else could have offered us.” Zach, another ninth graders says, “I think Mary is a brilliant and committed woman who shows a passion for what she does!”

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