The Gatton Academy at Western Kentucky University is celebrating its 10th year with the largest class yet. The academy is a residential high school for gifted juniors and seniors pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering, and math. The program is preparing to increase its number of students from 160 to 190.
Only 24 percent of Gatton’s most recent graduates continued their education at WKU. Gatton Director Lynette Breedlove says most students, historically, have transferred to other universities to finish their degrees.
“About 33 percent of students historically have stayed at WKU. About 30 percent have gone to UK, about 12 percent to U of L. And the rest of the students have gone hither and yon. Probably the next largest group is about 4 percent going to Vandy,” Breedlove said.
One of the Gatton Academy’s goals is to keep more of the state’s top talent in Kentucky. Dr. Breedlove said she suspects many Gatton graduates who leave Kentucky for college will move back to the commonwealth to start their careers.
“I think long-term; we don’t know yet what our students are going to do. Because we’ve only had nine graduating classes, and they’re high school graduates—we’re just now seeing our students begin to graduate with their professional degrees.”
With state funding and private donations, the academy underwent a major expansion to accommodate additional students. An expansion celebration will be held October 19th.
The academy is housed in Florence Schneider Hall on the WKU campus. Newsweek magazine has named the Gatton Academy the top public high school in the nation for three years in a row.