The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

November 20, 2013

Fund opens horizons for Jefferson students

Staff Writer

JEFFERSON — Jefferson Area High School students can attend enrichment programs they may not have been able to afford thanks to the Fund for Student Enrichment in the Arts and Sciences.

This new fund will provide financial aid to students who have been accepted into summer programs offered by several universities and institutes, when they otherwise could not afford the tuition.

The fund creator, Bruce Loomis, said, “We know that people with large disposable incomes can sit down and write out checks to give their children advantages that people with lower incomes cannot. We want to give advantages to those kids without, to help them compete with those who have had every advantage.”

“If we could give them enrichment opportunities before they graduate, it could help them have more self confidence and have faith in the path they’re headed,” he said.

Loomis’s reasons behind developing the fund are not only based on a passion for helping disadvantaged students, but also largely based on scientific research.

He said, “We used to think that intelligence was something you were born with, and that it couldn’t change. But new science has shown that you can change your IQ through study and experience.

“Also, the new science of epigenetics is showing that a person’s experiences change how the proteins that make up their being interpret their DNA. It doesn’t change the DNA, just how it is expressed.”

Loomis said he hopes that through helping provide these experiences for students,  they will gain the same confidence that students from affluent families have in their ability to succeed.

“I’m really concerned that our kids come to appreciate math and science. I would like to see the same kind of support our athletic teams get. I would like to see that energy and support come into our academic programs. I want to bring the same kind of entusiasm into the arts and sciences as they do to athletics.

“We need to borrow from the things athletics have taught us, so kids look forward to going to calculus like they do to the football field. We want to bring that life and energy into academic programs and appreciation to the arts.”

He said he hopes that involvement in enrichment programs will prepare students to compete in the global markets of today’s professional world. He said that a recent study showed that more important than IQ to success is something they refered to as “grit.” Loomis said the most successful people are often those who push through stressful or unpleasant situations and have the determination to persevere.

Through the programs, he said, “we present these kids with a problem and give them a way to solve it. They’ll ask quietly, ‘Is this right?’ and when it is they feel like, ‘Yes, I’ve achieved this. I can handle this.’ If it goes well, then it will reinforce what happens in the classroom.”

“We hope it will be an incentive to get parents thinking about enrichment programs. At the very least, the programs can give students a more structured idea of where they’re headed.”

JAHS principal, Jeremy Huber, said that students should apply to the programs first, and if they are accepted, they can then apply for financial aid through the program, as well as through the fund.

“Students should apply (to enrichment programs) even if they don’t think they can afford it. This fund is for all students,” Huber said.

Loomis then added, “It’s for ambitious students who want to learn how to compete in the real world.”

Enrichment programs Loomis is looking into, and has sponsored students to attend in the past, include: Outward Bound; National Outdoor Leadership School; Iowa Young Writers Studio; Interlochen Summer Music Programs; Ross Mathematics Program at Ohio State University; science and math programs at University of Michigan; Cleveland Institute of Art’s two-week summer program; and the Future Scientists program through the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.

Anyone who feels they want to get involved can donate to the Jefferson Fund for Student Enrichment in the Arts and Sciences.