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Youthful scholars

The University of Bright Futures lets third-graders at Inverness Primary sign up for different classes - from horticulture and science to photojournalism and women in sports.

© St. Petersburg Times
published November 7, 2002

The course list is varied and relatively extensive at the University of Bright Futures. The students are quite young, but the location of UBF explains that.

The university is at Inverness Primary School, and all the students are in third grade.

The third-grade teachers, the P.E., music, art and technology teachers, the media specialist, a teacher's assistant and the school's head custodian created UBF as a hands-on application of academics for the children.

There are 14 "university professors" and 10 colleges, although they are not all available at one time. Some of the classes are one semester and others run for the entire year.

The choices are horticulture, design, strategic board games, science 101, American Indian culture, instruments/theater, photojournalism, King Lexicon and women in sports.

Students attend class from 1:15 to 2 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays. They chose their classes with the recommendations of their teachers and advice from their parents, using the college course descriptions. "It was first come, first served," said instrument and theater teacher Tina Cassidy.

The School of Music and Theatre, taught by third-grade teacher Cassidy and music teacher Dawn Mundy trains students to do performances. They are learning to play recorders and will participate in a Christmas performance.

During second semester's introduction to theater, students will learn acting techniques and prepare for a spring performance.

Introduction to design is taught by art teacher Jana Flaherty. Students learn about behind-the-scenes costume design, stage make-up and set and prop design.

The College of Lexicon is taught by technology teacher DeLane Bauer and kindergarten teacherBecky O'Connell. This course involves students in dictionary work amid the Age of Chivalry in the Kingdom of Dictopolis. Students use the dictionary to seek King Lexicon's secret word and complete his puzzle.

The study of girls and women in sports is taught by physical education teacher Pam Woznicki. In the College of Photojournalism, Alice Green and Karen Goodwin, both third-grade teachers, teach computer technology and photography to help students produce the school's yearbook and a student memory book.

The College of Horticulture, instructed by Gail Bockiaro and Cheryl Eldridge, third-grade teachers, is a course in Florida gardening.

Science 101, taught by media specialist Barbara Hawkins and teacher's assistant Sandy Sporito, takes a look at earth science, natural science and astronomy.

North American Cultures is a study of Indian cultures. It has only four students and is taught by head custodian Bobbie Billings.

Strategic board games, taught by physical education teacher Terry Flaherty, is an exercise in planning and thinking. Included games are checkers, tic tac toe, Chinese checkers, backgammon and chess.

Classes began Oct. 22 and Cassidy is optimistic about the program's success. "So far, so good," she said. "The kids seem to really love it."

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