RISD’s gifted and talented program, REACH, is coming to Northlake Elementary.

Beginning next fall, neighborhood elementary students in REACH (Realizing Excellence in Academic Cognition Heuristically) no longer will be bused to James Bowie Elementary, 330 N. Marsalis, one day a week for instruction by gifted education specialists.

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Instead, they will study closer to home at Northlake.

“Our children were spending so much time on the bus,” says Northlake Principal Kay Shickles.

Northlake will become a REACH site during the 1995/96 school year. Gifted students from elementary schools in Lake Highlands will go to Northlake for classes one day a week in critical thinking and special interest areas, including foreign languages and the arts. Different groups of gifted students will be taught throughout the school week.

“The children will work on a lot of problem-solving activities,” says Shickles, who was a REACH teacher in the early 1980s.

“Truly gifted children don’t always fit into the regular classroom. This is the day they can go and be happy and involved.”

To make room for the REACH program, Northlake will hold four half-day kindergarten sessions, rather than four full day classes. This will free up two rooms for gifted instruction, Shickles says.

Three to four REACH teachers from Bowie will be added to Northlake’s staff, Shickles says, and half the library used by the REACH program at Bowie will come to Northlake.

“Having the talented and gifted program at Northlake says something about our school,” Shickles says. “Bringing the REACH personnel into our school will be a benefit. They can share their expertise with our teachers.”

Expanding the REACH program south of LBJ was the idea of Northlake parents concerned about long bus rides, Shickles says.

Parents, teachers and administrators on Northlake’s Local School Council suggested to RISD Superintendent Vernon Johnson that a REACH site be established in Lake Highlands and that Northlake would be a good place for it.

“The important part of REACH is to have the gifted students together and have them interact with one another,” says Andi Case, RISD’s administrative director of honors and gifted programs.

“Northlake was interested in having us. They have the facilities and the rooms.”

RISD has not made a final decision regarding which schools will send their gifted students to Northlake for the REACH program. It is likely that all neighborhood elementary schools will bus students to Northlake, as well as some schools elsewhere in RISD, Case says.