They’re “stuck in the middle” at the SummerQuest program at Emerald Hill Elementary, and it’s a good thing, as gifted students study the Middle Ages during summer.

92 rising sixth through eighth graders from several schools chse one of six classes being offered according to SummerQuest Director Ladona Gorham, in her ninth year heading the program.

Gifted Students Study The Middle Ages During Summer

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“SummerQuest is an opportunity for gifted and talented students from the region to come together and study topics they don’t get a chance to learn about during the school year,” Gorham said. “The classes mainly focus on critical thinking and creativity.”

This year’s theme is “Stuck in the Middle with You” as students explore the Middle Ages.

The six classes offered this year are “The Dark Side of the Moat” (Social Studies), “Medieval Madness in Technology” (Technology), “The Middle of the Mystery” (English), “Journey to the Center of Your Body” (Science), “Height and Light” (Art) and “Standing in the Middle” (drama).

Gorham said the two-week course is a summer regional Governor’s School program that is funded each year by the state of Virginia.

“We have the exact same budget now as we did when it started 27 years ago,” Gorham said.

Gifted Students Study The Middle Ages During Summer

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Culpeper County High School teacher Michael McKenna returned to SummerQuest for his 12th summer to lead the Social Studies class.

“What I try to do each year is come up with a game that sums up all the elements of the class,” McKenna said, as his students gathered in the hallway to play a game on a map of Great Britain to determine which of five teams would ultimately become “Defender of the Faith.”

“They get the chance to go on crusades, trade with Muslims and hopefully avoid having a plague,” McKenna said.

In the technology class, students created their own catapults and English longbows, calculating how much curve and tension would make their eraser-tipped arrows travel as far as possible.

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