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Saturday, Aug. 27, 2016

Missouri Scholars Academy's residents are learning inside and out of classroom

Thursday, July 1, 2004

Missouri Scholars Academy participants Tyler Flaker, Mollie Triplett and Curtis Eftink.
COLUMBIA - Most students view June as a time for swimming and spending time with friends. Books and classes are far from their minds. However, Tyler Flaker of Sikeston and Mollie Triplett of East Prairie are among 330 high school students in Missouri exercising their minds right now, at the 20th annual Missouri Scholars Academy.

Each high school nominates one sophomore for the academy. But that doesn't guarantee a student's acceptance. "I had to take an IQ test and write a couple of essays," Triplett said, in addition to filling out the application form.

The academy, which began June 13 and continues through July 3, is held on the University of Missouri-Columbia campus. And participants are definitely getting a taste of what college will be like for them in two short years.

Flaker and Triplett agreed that they are receiving good college preparation. "I have to learn how to share space - I share a bathroom with three other guys," Flaker said. "At least I didn't have a community bathroom - I was afraid of that."

"I get to live away from home. And I totally depend on myself to do laundry and everything," Triplett added. The students are also learning to make decisions for themselves, such as what they eat.

One of the most important lessons they are learning is how to meet people. Flaker said: "I had to learn how to make friends, because I didn't know anyone who was going."

The students' days are jam-packed with activities. "You always have something to do and you're never bored unless you want to be," Triplett said.

Breakfast begins at 7:30 a.m. Then, the participants are off to the three hour class for their major, which they were allowed to choose.

"There were a lot of math and science classes and I don't like math or science," Triplett said. She chose an education major. "It's interesting, because we learn how education has changed through the years."

Flaker, on the other hand, enjoys science. "I'm majoring in chemistry, because I really like science," Flaker said. He is also considering a career in engineering or medicine. He said that he finds the classes he is taking to be good preparation for his future.

After major classes are over, it's lunch time, and then off to another class. This class is for their chosen minor and only lasts an hour.

Flaker has a class about African American Music, while Triplett took Acting for Non-Actors. Both said they find their classes interesting and enriching.

Choosing their own major and minor makes the classes more enjoyable for participants. "Since we got to choose, it was a lot better than it would have been if we had just been stuck in a class," Triplett said.

"I'm really interested in my classes, which is great," Flaker said. "I really like chemistry because it's really fast-paced. We probably do three experiments a day."

A personal dynamics class follows the minor class. "It's the same group that's in my minor class," Flaker said. He described it as being similar to a psychology class, helping students to get in touch with their emotions and learn about people.

In the late afternoon, optional extracurricular activities are held. Flaker said that whether he goes "depends on how much laundry I have and how tired I am."

Some of these activities highlight different college programs, such as law school and engineering, while others are more instruction and entertainment, like Latin dancing, improvisation competitions and a visit from a hypnotist.

After dinner, participants are required to listen to a speaker, which wraps up their day. "We had a speaker on Islam," Triplett said. "It was really interesting."

The academy appears to be quite different than high school. "It's more challenging than regular school. It's very laid back and the kids pretty much run the class," Triplett said. "You have to think for yourself and if you want to talk you have to stand up and be heard."

Flaker agreed. "Everyone that's here wants to be here, so everyone pays attention and works. I learn a lot and have to pay attention and stay on top of everything."

Contrary to his thoughts about the academy before he attended, Flaker is having a great time. "At first, I didn't really want to go, I just did it because my parents wanted me to," he said. "But, I'm really glad I came now because there are nice people here, it is a cool environment, and I have learned a lot I never thought I would learn."

Triplett is the daughter of Michael and Glenda Triplett of East Prairie. Flaker is the son of Michael and Colleen Flaker of Sikeston. Curtis Eftink of Bloomfield is also attending the academy but was not available for interview.

The students offered advice for others considering attending the academy.

"It's not like school and you need to go because it's really fun and great for you," Triplett said.

"I would just say to go into something like this with an open mind," Flaker added. "You have no idea what it's going to be like and it could be the most fun you've ever had in school."