What is DECATS?
DeBusk Enrichment Center for Academically Talented Scholars is a three-week summer program for academically gifted third to sixth-grade students from Houston and Galveston-area schools.
How do students enroll in the DECATS program?
Students who are in third, fourth fifth or sixth grade and who score at or above the 95th-percentile on a standardized achievement test, creativity test or reasoning test are nominated by their school's principal to participate in the DECATS program. After being nominated, students who are interested in attending complete an online application.
Is there homework at DECATS?
In general, there is no homework. Occasionally a mentor may give Scholars the option to complete work at home.
Can the program be extended beyond the sixth grade?
No. Research indicates that the optimum time for influence in the lives of gifted students is between third and sixth grade. The guidelines of DeBusk Foundation, which provides the grant for DECATS, specifically targets third through sixth graders. However, Scholars who have graduated from DECATS often return to serve as Graduate Assistants for the program.
Are Scholars required to attend the entire program?
Yes, Scholars are required to attend the entire three-week program. Nominees may only apply if they are committed to attending the entire three weeks. First-year Scholars and their parents are also required to attend the Orientation & Open House held the Sunday before DECATS begins. This day is optional for second, third and fourth-year Scholars.
If I am a first-year Scholar and I will be out of town for the Orientation, may I be excused from attending that day?
No. The Orientation includes essential information about the structure and purpose of the program. Hearing this information second hand is not sufficient to prepare first-year Scholars to attend, or for parents to support their Scholar. Scholars arriving Monday without having been oriented will be missing essential pieces needed to be successful on the first day of DECATS.
Additionally, all applicants are required to assign a Commitment to Attend agreement, which includes commitment to attend all days of the program, including the orientation.
What do Scholars wear to DECATS?
Dress is summer casual: t-shirt, shorts, and sneakers, with designated DECATS t-shirt days on Monday and Friday of each week, especially important for the DECATS Photo on the first Monday of the program.
What is the actual cost of the program for each Scholar?
The cost of this innovative program is well over $100. However, DeBusk Foundation provides a scholarship to each Scholar for half of that cost. Thus, each Scholar's remaining tuition is $450 per year. Additional financial aid is available for those who qualify.
Do Scholars have to buy school supplies?
No. All supplies are provided. Scholars may be offered the option to bring in items to be used in their courses, and this is always optional.
Do parents get an opportunity to evaluate the program?
Absolutely. Parents will be provided with an opportunity to complete an evaluation towards the end of the summer session. Scholars also get to fill out an evaluation, and both are very helpful in future planning. These evaluations are conducted online. We also welcome any feedback you have during the program, so please feel free to contact us any time.
Is there refrigeration for lunches or cafeteria catering?
No on both accounts. Scholars bring a lunch from home for every day of DECATS. Please send lunches that do not require refrigeration or heating (refrigerators and microwaves are not available). If you do need something to remain cold, please send it in a lunchbox.
Can Scholars bring items like a CD / MP3 player, cell phones, a deck of cards, books, etc?
Scholars may not bring cell phones, iPods, MP3 players, CD players, Walkman radios, handheld video game consoles, or any other electronic devices. Scholars are encouraged to bring books for reading or small strategy games (like card games). These items may only be used during extended day and lunch / recess.
Does DECATS provide extended day care? How much does this cost?
Extended day begins at 7:00 a.m. and ends at 5:00 p.m. No extended care is provided on the last day of DECATS, as the program concludes before noon that day.
Families sign up for extended day during registration, which takes place online. A fee is collected in addition to tuition:
Morning & Afternoon Care: $100
Only Morning Care: $50
Only Afternoon Care: $50
Costs cover care for the entire three weeks. These costs are flat fees and are not pro-rated on the number of days of care utilized. Scholars who do not register for extended day and that utilize extended day services will be charged the corresponding fee.
Where and when do I bring and pick up my Scholar each day?
Scholars should be dropped off in the designated driveway during carpool hours. Mentors will be outside to facilitate. Afternoon carpool is held in the same lot. Carpool numbers should be hung on the rearview mirror (or prominently displayed if there are multiple tags). Any car not displaying an official DECATS carpool tag will be asked to park and come in to facilitate Scholar pick up.
Scholars attending extended day must be escorted intothe building beginning at 7:00 am and should be picked up no later than 5:00 pm. Under no circumstances should a Scholar be dropped off unless a DECATS faculty member is there to receive him or her.
What if my child takes medication?
An archdiocesan medical form is available for you to fill out via myStatus. Medication should be brought to the DECATS office with the completed form on the first day of DECATS. All medication will be administered by the Office Manager. This includes non-prescription items like aspirin, cough drops, etc. Over-the-counter medications cannot be administered without a medication form on file.
Can I visit DECATS?
Certainly! Please join us for Morning Assembly, which includes prayer and fellowship, and Afternoon Assembly, which includes course presentations, song and prayer. You are also invited to join us for the DECATS Closing Celebration on the last day of the program.
Can I obtain a list of Scholars attending DECATS or coming from my school so that I can arrange a carpool?
For confidentiality reasons, we do not make or distribute directories. However, all families are invited to participate in our "Campaign to Carpool," a protected area of the DECATS website where families can share information and form carpools. Families will also have time to form carpools at the Orientation & Open House, held the Sunday before DECATS begins.
What if my child has special needs? Can DECATS accommodate those needs?
Absolutely. DECATS is committed to serving the needs of all students. Parents can communicate those needs during application to the program, and DECATS faculty are notified and provided with modifications to accommodate Scholars. Modifications include special seating, ability to take unscheduled breaks, assistance with movement around campus, and modification of curriculum to address learning differences.