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Release: Immediate

Gifted and talented students from Des Moines to reunite at UI Nov. 14-15

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- A group of gifted and talented eighth-graders from Des Moines who attended a highly selective academic program at the University of Iowa last summer will return for a two-day reunion Nov. 14 and 15 at the Connie Belin and Jacqueline N. Blank International Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development.

Students in the Iowa Talent Project (ITP), a unique effort to help minority and economically disadvantaged students learn some of the academic skills they'll need for college-level work, will revisit campus and touch base with some of the teachers and staff from the summer program during the two-day reunion.

The students will also attend the Iowa-Chicago State basketball game Nov. 14.

Nicholas Colangelo, director of the Belin-Blank Center, says the reunion is a new idea intended to bolster academic and social support for the students in a low-pressure atmosphere.

"We hope the reunion will give these students a chance to reconnect with each other, their teachers, and the staff of the Belin-Blank Center," Colangelo says. "Since finishing the summer program, these kids have gone through some fairly major changes in their lives, both academically and socially."

Begun in 1993, the Iowa Talent Project is a partnership between the Belin-Blank Center and the Des Moines school district that provides gifted students in underrepresented groups with enhanced educational programming.

Students in the program attend a three-week session at the UI during the summer after seventh grade. During the regular school year, the students take honors and Advanced Placement courses at Des Moines Central Academy.

Between 10 and 15 students annually are chosen for the Iowa Talent Project. Students are selected by the Des Moines school district from the district's talented and gifted program, based on academic histories and educational commitment.

While on campus, ITP students take a rigorous academic program that focuses on skills needed for future high school and post-secondary success. Students who successfully complete the ITP program are granted admission to the UI.