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Release: Immediate

UI Belin-Blank Center honors outstanding students and teachers May 10

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, University of Iowa President Mary Sue Coleman and noted UI brain researcher Dr. Antonio Damasio will talk about the importance of gifted and talented education when they address more than 500 outstanding K-12 students and teachers Saturday, May 10 at Hancher Auditorium.

The students, along with the teachers who inspired them, will be honored for their achievements during the fifth annual recognition ceremony of the Connie Belin and Jacqueline N. Blank International Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development of the UI College of Education.

The ceremony begins at 12:45 p.m. More than 2,500 people, including family, teachers and friends, are expected to attend.

Begun in 1993, the annual tradition is a unique opportunity to honor the academic and creative abilities of elementary, junior high and high school students in Iowa and across the country. Each student is asked to nominate and invite to the ceremony a teacher who has inspired the student to excel in education.

Says Nicholas Colangelo, director of the Belin-Blank Center: "The ceremony is our effort to let the students know that the development of their talents and their commitment to education will be rewarded. It's also a chance to let teachers know that their dedication is not only vital to the education of students but also has a big impact in the lives of students."

Branstad and Coleman will welcome students to the ceremony.

Damasio, professor and chair of the department of neurology at the UI College of Medicine, and Luong Banh, a UI engineering student from Ankeny and a former student in Belin-Blank Center program, will deliver keynote addresses.

Other speakers include Steven R. Yussen, dean of the College of Education; Rep. James Leach, R-Iowa; and Debra Van Gorp of the Iowa Department of Education

Established in 1988, the Belin-Blank Center specializes in programming and research to meet the educational needs of exceptionally talented children and their teachers. The Center conducts an extensive roster of talent searches, precollege programs, teacher training workshops and counseling programs.

The ceremony is sponsored in part by an endowment established by Jocelyn Wallace of Scottsdale, Ariz. and support from the Belin-Blank Center, the College of Education, the Office of the Provost, the Office of Admissions, the UI Foundation, and the UI Honors Program.