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Released June 27, 2003


HATTIESBURG -- Two dynamic programs at The University of Southern Mississippi designed to develop the educational and leadership potential for children and youth will celebrate important anniversaries this summer.

Over 100 students will attend the 20th session of the Leadership Studies Program, and over 150 students are scheduled to attend the 25th year of the Summer Gifted Studies Program. Students attending are from all areas of Mississippi as well as all other areas of the country, including New York, New Mexico, North Carolina, Arkansas, Texas, Florida, Tennessee, Alabama, and Louisiana.

The Leadership Studies Program is a one-week residential program for students in grades six through eleven who have a desire to develop and enhance their leadership abilities. The program is divided into three phases that focus on different components of leadership. Leadership I is a program with specific emphasis on leadership skills. Training includes those areas necessary for leadership development: fundamentals of leadership, written and oral communication, group dynamics, problem solving, planning, personal skills, and decision making. Avenues for becoming leaders in the school, community, and religious affiliation are utilized to heighten the awareness and development of leadership potential.

Leadership II is a continuation of the program, with Leadership I as a prerequisite for entry. It is an intense study to further develop leadership concepts and qualities. Emphasis is placed on the psychology of leadership, assertiveness training, and situational leadership.

Leadership III is an extension of the program, with Leadership II as a prerequisite for entry. Training focuses on the legal aspects of leadership, responsibilities of various positions of leadership, developing personal power, and leadership for the future. In all phases, the students have the opportunity for informal interaction with adult leaders. Guest speakers from the community address the program and allow participants time to ask questions.

One aspect that all three classes incorporate is a plan for leadership. Students brainstorm for projects they would like to develop within their school and community or changes they would like to see made. They are then instructed on how to develop an action plan to accomplish those goals. In the past, students have gone on to implement their plans for leadership resulting in projects ranging from beginning a school debate program to establishing a neighborhood cleanup effort. Former students have also initiated theater competitions among regional high schools, as well as beginning clubs in their schools and communities.

The plan for leadership is an important aspect of the program because it allows students to see that they do not have to wait until they become an adult to be a leader. There are projects they can undertake in schools, communities, and churches now. Learning to plan and follow through prepares youth for leadership roles in high school, college, and in their adult lives.

The annual Leadership Breakfast is another unique feature of the Leadership Studies Program at The University of Southern Mississippi. At the conclusion of the program each year, community leaders are invited from various cities and communities throughout Mississippi to attend a special breakfast. Students and leaders are seated together to allow for interaction and opportunities for an exchange of ideas about leadership. Several students, selected by their peers, have the opportunity to present their plans for leadership to all of the program participants, as well as to the community and university leaders. This is of great interest to the adult leaders as they see the possibilities associated with the emerging leaders in the room.

The Summer Gifted Studies Program is a one-week residential program for intellectually gifted students in grades four through eight. The program enhances the cognitive abilities of gifted students through planned enrichment/acceleration activities. Content areas are combined with processing skills to enable students to explore a wide variety of topics. Topics offered this summer include "Money! Money! Money!," "Write On!," "World Cultural Connections, Inventions, Design Studio, Business Leaders, and Mind Power."

The Summer Program for Academically Talented Youth will also be offered this summer. This three-week residential program is designed for students in grades seven through 10 who score as well as or better than entering college freshmen on the ACT or SAT. A variety of intensive, fast-paced courses will be offered including precalculus mathematics, polymer science, forensic science, creative writing, psychology, and anatomy and physiology. The program is designed to include appropriate academic, cultural, and recreational experiences. It is offered in cooperation with the Duke University Talent Identification Program.

The Frances A. Karnes Center for Gifted Studies at The University of Southern Mississippi will be celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2004. For more information on the Center and its Leadership Studies Program, the Summer Gifted Studies Program, or the Summer Program for Academically Talented Youth, please call the Center at (601) 266-5236 or e-mail


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April 20, 2004 4:09 PM