Morehead State to start residential high school for gifted students

lblackford@herald-leader.comApril 10, 2014 

Morehead State University will start a residential high school for gifted students, much like the current Gatton Academy at Western Kentucky University.

The Craft Academy for Excellence in Science and Mathematics will be paid for with $2.3 million from the state and a $4 million pledge from coal magnate Joe Craft, the CEO of Alliance Resource Partners. Morehead officials said it was the largest single cash gift in the university's history.

The Craft Academy is scheduled to open August 2015. Students will live on campus in a newly renovated residence hall designed for high school juniors and seniors. The facility will have meeting and social space and will be staffed 24 hours, seven days a week.

"I am excited to be a partner with Morehead State University in making this program available to exceptional young men and women to develop their God given talents," Craft said in a statement. "My passion is to provide opportunity for people that want to help themselves and develop professionally."

Craft is a well-known philanthropist in Lexington, where he has given millions of dollars to the basketball program at the University of Kentucky. He was the major donor behind the Craft Practice Center and the Wildcat Coal Lodge.

Morehead officials said the school would be open to academically gifted students, who will take a college-level curriculum that will allow them to graduate from high school with as many as 60 credit hours for college, either at Morehead or elsewhere.

Students would be invited to apply from across the commonwealth, with openings for 60 juniors and 60 seniors, starting with 60 juniors in the fall of 2015, Morehead President Wayne Andrews said. There would be no tuition for students accepted into the program, he said.

Andrews said more information about the program will be available soon, as Morehead faculty visit other such academies around the country.

Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, said his daughter benefited from the Gatton Academy at Western.

"I'm thankful to President Andrews and Mr. Craft for making this a reality," he said. "I hope we will be able to establish more programs like this one in the future."

House Majority Floor Leader Rocky Adkins, D-Sandy Hook, called the academy a game-changer for Eastern Kentucky.

"Educating Kentucky's brightest and best high school students with a heavy emphasis on science and mathematics will ensure their professional success, inspire entrepreneurship and provide our region with a workforce uniquely prepared to compete in the 21st century," Adkins said.

Linda Blackford: (859) 231-1359Twitter: @lbblackford

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