"How would you like to have a place to go to learn about yourself? A comfortable, safe place. A place where special mentors are trained to help you broaden your understanding of yourself and others. A place where you can make new friends. A place where you can develop your own style with confidence. A place where you can learn new skills and be challenged in ways you have never been challenged before. Could you find such a place? If you could, I'll bet you would regard it as a special place."
Dr. Marty F. Webb
Founder of DECATS in Houston
There is a special place like this, and it is hosted at St. Rose of Lima Catholic School, St. Pius X High School and Northwoods Catholic School in the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston. And for three weeks each summer, these campuses become that special place for over 700 academically talented Scholars from throughout the archdiocese.Through a grant from DeBusk Foundation, Houston and surrounding-area private and public schools are able to offer their third, fourth, fifth and sixth graders the DECATS opportunity.
DECATS offers a unique opportunity for high-ability students to participate in an intensive three-week summer adventure of challenging and enriching coursework, nurturing the whole learner and fostering the leaders of tomorrow. The program provides an enriched learning environment for students who demonstrate high intellectual ability, a strong commitment to learning and exceptional creativity.
A year of intense planning and preparation goes into every three-week summer program. Principals from throughout the Houston-Galveston area are asked to nominate their students of intellectual talent; students whose basic skills and composite scores place them at or above the 95th percentile; students who exhibit above-average academic achievement; students who will benefit from this extraordinary opportunity.
Young people who are the caliber of those selected for DECATS are the greatest resource that our nation has for the future.
The overriding purpose of the program is to identify and challenge young Scholars at a critical period in their lives. The program seeks to make a direct impact on the learning environment of those selected for the program, as well as positively influence the lives of other students with whom the program participants are in contact with in their schools.
Another purpose of the program is to encourage schools to become more aware of the unique and individual needs of these gifted and talented students and meet these in the curriculum. The program is designed to be a valuable partner, not a critic or competitor, of the elementary schools participating in the identification of these DECATS Scholars.
DECATS provides a qualitatively different learning experience for children with strong academic talents. The program focuses on the curricular areas of literature, drama, social studies, mathematics, science, computer science, creative writing, journalism, art, music and creative problem solving. Although the major academic disciplines covered remain the same, courses vary from year to year.
Other goals of DECATS include helping gifted Scholars to develop the schools needed to work independently, to spark and sustain interest in intellectual pursuits beyond that possible during the normal school day, to teach techniques important to gifted individuals and to expand Scholars' problem-solving ability.
How do you challenge a child who is quite possibly your intellectual superior? Mentors and DECATS Scholars alike spend time developing new relationships. They make new discoveries, and together, they address academic challenges.
For parents, the Orientation & Open House on Sunday before the program begins is just the first step in helping them share the DECATS experience with their Scholar. They also have the opportunity to attend the opening and closing assemblies each day, which include course presentations, prayer, song and fellowship. During these three weeks of DECATS, parents will begin to know their Scholar in new ways, just as they will discover a new self. This is an enriching time, and we trust that parents will enjoy sharing in their Scholar's experience.
DECATS: a special place, an opportunity for academically talented students to discover their potential, to make new friends, to be themselves.
Enrollment for the DECATS program is open to Archidiocese of Galveston-Houston Catholic school students and other private and public school students who have completed the third through sixth grades by June.
DECATS is limited to one three-week session. To qualify as a nominee, one must score in the 95th-percentile or higher on a standardized achievement test, creativity test or reasoning test. Once accepted into the program, Scholars will be extended an invitation to return each year until graduating from the program after their sixth grade school year.
DECATS nominees, having been certified by their principals of their achievement test score, are then eligible to make formal application to the program. Application entails a process of gathering general information and completing a Scholar Questionnaire.
DECATS is a three-week session. In order to attend, Scholars must be present for the full three weeks, including the Orientation & Open House for all new Scholars. When they complete DECATS, Scholars will have more than one hundred contact hours of classroom instruction and interaction.
An Orientation & Open House is held the Sunday before DECATS begins. Both Scholars and parents are asked to attend since there is valuable information for everyone. New Scholars are required to attend; the orientation is optional for second, third and fourth-year Scholars and their parents.
This day affords parents the opportunity to meet other parents of gifted children, to learn techniques in working with your Scholar's giftedness, and to address some educational concerns. Parents will also be given information pertinent to their concerns, particularly the needs of gifted students, emotionally and educationally, and an outline of the year's program will be presented. The day is both educational and social. It allows parents to form a support group and carpools and meet the DECATS faculty. Scholars will participate in initial get-acquainted activities, meet their mentors and fellow Scholars and preview their courses. Each Scholar is provided a program handbook along with their course schedule and a DECATS t-shirt. Dress for the day is casual. Families will tour the campus. Immediate family must pick up a Scholar's handbook and course schedule. Neither will be released to any other party.
The Closing Celebration for Scholars and parents takes place on the last day of DECATS. Scholars are dismissed at the end of the celebration. The celebration is a culmination of everything Scholars have accomplished during the three weeks, including a community assembly for performances. Scholars lead their family on a tour of the campus to view course products and in-classroom presentations and to enjoy the fruits of courses Scholars did not participate in this summer. You won't want to miss this exciting salute to the best three weeks ever!
Scholars select three elective enrichment courses to pursue during the three-week session. We encourage parents and Scholars to choose carefully, to plan for a balanced curriculum and sometimes make choices for courses that address skills that they might not necessarily prefer but that they recognize is an area of weakness in which the Scholar needs to improve.
This type of enrichment program, to be effective, addresses the need for a qualitatively differentiated education program for the academically gifted child. This program provides specific guidelines for enrichment of all aspects of the curriculum: content, process, product and learning environment.
During course selection, Scholars preview a wealth of offerings and rank them in order of preference. DECATS works with those choices to give Scholars as many of their highest choices as possible. While Scholars may not receive all first choices, the great news is that all of the courses are fun, interesting and challenging.
Renzulli's Triad Process
Using the triad process developed by Dr. Joseph Renzulli, and by emphasizing Level III activities, the DECATS program includes the curricular areas of literature, drama, social studies, mathematics, science, computer science and technology, creative writing, journalism, art, music, physical education and creative problem solving.
The development of the gifted child is directly addressed as Scholars explore the implications of their talents in a required guidance course entitled "Perspectives." Leadership and positive risk-taking skills are taught and encouraged.
Challenging work is accomplished in an informal atmosphere. Scholars wear casual clothes. There is no homework, and Scholars bring packed heart-healthy lunches.
DECATS takes place at St. Rose of Lima Catholic School, St. Pius X High School and Northwoods Catholic School in Houston, Texas. There is access to all school facilities, including gymnasium, computer lab, library, cafeteria, playing field and playground.
An extended day program is offered in the morning beginning at 7:00 and in the afternoon until 5:00.
The program is taught by distinguished professional school educators who have noteworthy achievements in their areas of expertise. A 10:1 ratio of Scholars to faculty is maintained. If you are interested in becoming a part of the DECATS team, complete our Mentor Application found in the "Join our Staff Team" section of our website.
Sponsoring Institution: DeBusk Foundation
DECATS is underwritten through the financial generosity of DeBusk Foundation (http://www.debuskfoundation.org), which is dedicated to the education of gifted children. It is fully supported by the superintendent of Catholic schools of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston.
Fees & Scholarships
The cost of this innovative program is over $1000. However, DeBusk Foundation provides a scholarship to each participating Scholar for half of that cost. Thus, each Scholar's remaining tuition is $450 per year. In the event of a withdrawal, DECATS will refund payment less a $100 processing fee.