RANDOLPH AIR FORCE BASE, Texas –
Eleven middle school students in Randolph Field Independent School District's gifted and talented program had an opportunity to make independent study program research presentations to a former American U.N. Ambassador Tuesday, Mr. Sichan Siv, a Cambodian immigrant who arrived in America with $2 in his pocket and a burning need to educate himself.
Mr. Siv was joined in the judging by RFISD's superintendent Billy Walker, Col. Alan Lake, 902nd Mission Support Group commander, and RFISD gifted and talented program coordinator, teacher Jennifer Adams. Said Mr. Siv, "I am privileged to be here today to judge the results of this distinguished program. I look back to my days in Cambodia and realize these children are very blessed."
Mr. Walker agreed with Mr. Siv and said more than just the gifted and talented students deserved recognition, because for 2009-2010, all of Randolph ISD's schools were rated as "Exemplary" by the Texas Education Association.
"That's special," Mr. Walker added, "because 30 percent of the district's students this year were new."
While those academically proficient students took turns making their computer-assisted presentations, Mr. Siv remarked how great it was that today's typical middle-school student has almost immediate access to information critical for school.
"When I was younger and I wanted to learn, it was books, books, books," Mr. Siv observed. "I spent a lot of time in the library, and I married a librarian," he added, smiling.
Sixth-grader Daniel Cluxton presented his piece about how the Incas lived before, during and after the conquest of the Spanish Empire. Cluxton developed his presentation to be inserted into a typical middle school social studies curriculum. He said it would be beneficial for his fellow students to learn this particular piece of history before high school. He added maybe because the fall of one of the most technically-evolved civilizations could serve as a lesson learned.
"It was all about gold and greed," Cluxton reasoned. "Greed brought the Incas down."
Colonel Lake, who brought Mr. Siv to the school and asked him to help judge the presentations, said in the Year of the Air Force Family, having a gifted and talented program at Randolph's exemplary schools shows how much the Air Force invests in its people.
"It's great to be part of a school system where students like these can bloom and grow. These students can compete successfully," he concluded.
Mr. Siv said that he was fortunate to be the first in his family to be educated and through all it took, he followed his mother's advice.
"She said to never give up hope, to never give up thinking that things would get better. She believed in education."