Sizzling Summer Awaits at St. Thomas
St. Thomas is excited to offer a summer discovery for exceptional scholars which sparks curiosity and ignites passion through its [email protected] program.
Academic enrichment, course credit, and athletic camps, all engaging and rewarding, are designed to captivate and stimulate students and led by expert educators. The centerpiece is a highly specialized curriculum created specifically for incoming freshmen making the transition to demanding college preparatory.
St. Thomas Dean of Students Rod Takacs is the driving force behind Step Up Study Skills, a dynamic series that has proven measurably effective in preparing rising ninth graders for success in high school, college, and beyond.
“Without question, there is a multidimensional benefit in play here that helps establish the proper foundation for future learning,” says Takacs. “Reading comprehension is essential, as is recognizing within a discussion the signals for what material is most important. We want to begin developing an attitude and self-confidence that supports accomplished students.”
Study Skills is a comprehensive and collaborative exercise utilizing simulations and virtual presentations. Students are introduced to creative strategies and practical approaches - from how to establish ambitious goals to organizing and implementing optimal time management to enhancing critical thinking and problem solving.
“In many ways, I see these tutorials as fostering our next intellectual community. So many students emerge ready to excel from day one and often become the future leaders and mentors,” says Takacs. “And as with all our summer offerings, the goal in 2021 is to craft a learning experience that will be both interactive and captivating. Our faculty and staff are committed to maintaining the academic standard expected from a St. Thomas enterprise.”
Gus Boettcher ‘21, Luke McCain ‘21, and Patrick Pham ‘21 represent prime examples of the power behind the process. The three acclaimed and forward-thinking scholars participated in Study Skills prior to their freshmen year and all proceeded to high-arcing achievement in a wide array of endeavors.
“The most important aspect of being successful in rigorous courses is being organized,” says Boettcher. “The Study Skills program gave me the initial skills I needed to reach my goals my freshman year and helped me find the applications that were right for me. As I progressed through more challenging courses, I utilized different methods of studying and development that worked. The program helped me to recognize and latch onto those tactics more quickly.”
Boettcher, McClain, and Pham personify the deeply diverse St. Thomas experience. They are two-year members of the National Honor Society with Pham serving as the St. Thomas chapter president for the 2020-21 academic year. The terrific trio are champion performers in the celebrated St. Thomas speech and debate program and have earned significant distinction in the most prestigious competitions in the country. They are also vibrant performers appearing in a series of robust productions staged by St. Thomas Drama.
Pham says “Study Skills unlocked so many different doors and new potentials for me. There are different applications for everyone depending on their unique skill set. Key for me was setting aside a specific schedule and balancing the academics along with the extracurriculars. I continue to work from that solid foundation established my freshman year.”
Pham’s notable profile extends to Eagle Swimming where he was a vital contributor to consecutive TAPPS Division I state championships, the first such titles in school history, and a second-place result in the 2021 state championships. He is deciding between the McCombs Business School at the University of Texas and the Mays Business School at Texas A&M University. McClain is also strongly considering Texas A&M while Boettcher has chosen to attend Vanderbilt University.
“When you are juggling a multitude of extracurricular activities and academic demands, time management becomes critical,” Boettcher says. “Study Skills helped me develop the leverage I needed to be successful in multiple disciplines and eventually the college admissions procedures.”
Study Skills launches in June 2021 and is available to all rising ninth graders. The enrichment is rooted in the SMARTS Executive Function & Mentoring Program developed by Dr. Lynn Meltzer of the Research Institute for Learning and Development, and the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
Takacs delivers a deep reservoir of academic acumen to the early opportunity exposure, as both an instructor and program director. He has served the St. Thomas faculty while teaching history, government, and legal studies, and brings more than two decades of superior results honing and shaping educational journeys.
“I can't think of a better way to get started at St. Thomas,” says Takacs. “What a great chance for students to familiarize themselves with our culture and resources before the fall semester.”
Deanna Woodlief, Camp Director