The Edmond Sun

July 22, 2013

Students from 17 states join OC Honors Academy

Special to The Sun

EDMOND — Gifted high school students from 17 states attended Oklahoma Christian University for a preview of college life. Whether culturing cells from Henryetta Lacks, volunteering in a summer literacy program or programming a microprocessor for light displays set to music, the 72 students in OC’s Honors Summer Academy stayed busy learning in an academically challenging environment.

Edmond students participating in the program included: Elizabeth Baird, Rebecca Bingham, Emily Brooks, Matthew Brown, Zac Channel, Monica Holmes, Brandon Jacob, Seth Kooi, Hadley LaMascus, Marcus Leonard, Nicholas Massey, Chris Patton, Dylan Petersen, Connie Smethers, Laura Smethers, Julian Smith and David Taylor.

The Summer Academy brings in bright high school students and gives them a taste of Christian higher education, said Jim Baird, director of OC’s Honors Program. They take courses for college credit, experience life and engage each other and their professors intellectually and spiritually.

The annual, seven-day college experience encourages the pursuit of excellence by gifted and talented students finishing their freshman through junior years of high school. By the end of the program, students will have developed the confidence to continue their academic pursuit of excellence, link academics to their faith and demonstrate the impact of experiential learning and service to others, according to the university. Each participant may earn two hours of university credit.

Students stay in OC’s Honors House at Davisson Hall, which reopened just two years ago. Honors House offers the opportunity to live in a community dedicated to equipping Christian students for the pursuit of academic excellence.

This is the fourth year that OC has hosted the Summer Academy, and all 72 openings filled before the end of May. Exactly half of the students are from Oklahoma. According to Baird, one student raised the funds to attend through an informal Facebook campaign and another did so by hosting a series of car washes.

“The demand for the Summer Academy is very strong, and these students are committed to learning,” he said. “They really have a lot of fun in an excellent learning environment.”

 A few of the week’s highlights included:

• A cellular biology lab in which students cultured cells with Henryetta Lacks.

• A community service project with the Lighthouse Medical Clinic and Capitol Hill Church of Christ’s Book Buddy literacy program. Academy students will select, read and give away books to elementary students in the Capitol Hill area of Oklahoma City.

• A meeting with Holocaust writer Michael Korenbilit, whose book highlights his parents’ survival in concentration camps, in the Holocaust Literature class.

• Programming a microprocessor for custom light displays set to music in the Introduction to Engineering class.

• A visit to Devon Energy’s headquarters as part of the Introduction to Math and Computer Science class.

• A field trip to see and handle relics from Greece and Rome as part of the class on the Greek poet Homer, and to see one of Galileo’s books.

• A visit to the Green Collection of historical Bibles at the Hobby Lobby headquarters.

• A music class project produced through one of OC’s Macintosh computer labs using multiple instruments and GarageBand software.

The honors program at Oklahoma Christian includes more than 130 students and continues to grow each year. According to Baird, the average ACT score for honors students is 31, and more than a quarter of these students are National Merit Scholars. Admission is highly selective, but not solely exam-based.

The program is a core-based, cohort-centered program offering team-taught Honors seminars for 40 exceptional freshmen each year.

Most OC Honors students study abroad in the fall or summer of their sophomore year (Vienna, Austria or Pacific Rim). All Honors students participate in Symposium each Monday and are eligible for Catalyst Grants for their senior capstone projects. Past Symposium speakers have included Civil Rights attorney Fred Gray, astronaut Douglas Wheelock and Constitutional Historian Rufus Fears. More information is available at