When 14 year old Maya C. told her mom she wanted to apply for the Geoscience program at Olathe North High School, Operations Manager, Emily C., encouraged her to go for it. While mom was apprehensive, it was all for naught—Maya was accepted into the 21st Century Program developed by the Olathe School District.
“It’s a program where students can focus on what they think they want to do after graduation,” explains Emily. “Students can’t just join, they have to qualify and be chosen by teachers for this honor.”
Maya was tasked with writing a paper about why she wanted to be in the program, getting a teacher’s recommendation, undergoing an extensive interview and passing a test. Teachers weighed the candidates to pick between 23 and 35 eight graders to participate.
“There are 23 different programs, such as law, nursing and veterinary studies,” said Emily. “Maya is one of only 26 freshmen accepted this year. She chose geo sciences which is the study of marine biology, astronomy, paleontology and oceanology.”
The high school creates a curriculum, effectively mapping out all four years of her high school experience. By the time she graduates, Maya will have earned hours of accreditation and college credits to help her get accepted to college.
Maya’s class schedule is impressive. She is enrolled in two honors classes and as a result this ninth grader’s work load is comparable to what a junior or senior would be taking who’s not in the program.
Her love of the ocean will see her through. Emily believes Maya’s studies will lead her to become a marine biologist. She learned to love the ocean and its inhabitants growing up in Florida.
“We spent a lot of time at the Marine Science Center not far from Sea Shells Beach Club, and we’d visit the Science Center in Clearwater when we could,” says Emily. “Maya loves the water and is inspired by the animal rescue work she witnessed in these centers.”
Maya has an amazing four years ahead of her! Not only will she learn in the classroom, she’ll have the opportunity to go to Texas to work at the university on marine biology and to Wyoming for a dino dig. Plus, she’ll be exposed to professionals in the field gaining confidence to use in whatever field she finds herself exploring as a college student.