Bucksbaum Academy Expands to Include High School Sophomores

Celeste Chadwick, Reporter

The University of Iowa’s Belin Blank Center has offered early entrance to the university for juniors and seniors in high school from across the globe since 1999. However, recently the academy received a $10 million donation from Mary Bucksbaum Scanlan and Patrick Scanlan to build a center at the Belin Blank center for science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics (STEAM). This new center integrates arts and humanities into the STEM program.

“[The program] gives students a headstart on their degree program at the university. In addition, through the Belin Blank Center, there are a lot of extra learning opportunities,” City High guidance counselor, Linda Hoel said.

The Bucksbaum Early Entrance Academy is for high-achieving 10th graders. These students enroll at The University of Iowa the semester following the completion of their sophomore year as first-year university students.

High school sophomore, Gabriel McCormick is one of many who has considered the academy. She considers the rigor of college versus high school.

“I could definitely be more academically challenged. However, taking into account extra curricular activities, I would say I’m being fairly challenged. Although I could handle more,” Gabriel McCormick said.

Students who enter the academy are considered university students. In their first year, students are required to live in the honors residence hall, Daum Hall, which attaches to the Belin Blank center by a skywalk. However, second-year students may live in any residence hall on campus.

“I think for a mature student then it can be a really good idea because they can get started with their college and become attached to the University of Iowa or a university setting,” Doug Lestina, sophomore English teacher at City high, said. “Although, I think for a student who isn’t [academically] mature, that they would be better off to stay in high school and get a more rounded education before heading off somewhere that academically rigorous.”

The majority of students who plan to attend this following semester will enroll at The University of Iowa in Fall 2016.

McCormick would like to continue with her high school career, as she values exposure to a wide variety of topics.

“I like the broad spectrum of things that I’m learning at City High, so I don’t think I would do [the academy],” McCormick said.

In addition to the Bucksbaum Early Entrance Academy, The Belin Blank Center offers many other additional educational opportunities for high school students.

“There are a lot of online learning opportunities for our students to take advantage of,” Hoel said.

During the summer there are a lot of special programs that are available to both high-achieving students and students needing special support. These programs will benefit both students attempting to get into the academy, and students who are interested in more help in high school.

The Belin Blank Center staff plans many social and cultural social events throughout the year including theater events, thanksgiving lunch, spa days, and an annual graduation luncheon which gives students an opportunity to get to know upperclass students and staff of the program.

Educational acceleration policies vary from state to state. Iowa allows the school board to decide policy involving the acceleration of students. The University of Iowa hopes to admit between 12 and 20 students from across the country into the Bucksbaum academy this upcoming semester. Once admitted, students will be learning with other teenagers also in the academy.

“I would recommend it to the right student,” Lestina said. “[The academy] is just one more opportunity for students to get a jump start on their college career.”