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Sheridan Student Explores Interests in UW Institute


June 28, 2012 — Sheridan High School student Grace Henderson spent some time in jail during her recent visit to Laramie.

But don’t be alarmed. The jail was a cell at the Wyoming Territorial Park, where she and other students attending the three-week University of Wyoming High School Institute performed community service work to spruce up the facility that once briefly held the notorious outlaw, Butch Cassidy.

Henderson is among more than 80 sophomores from 50 Wyoming school districts attending the HSI, an educational journey that allows the students to explore their intellectual, social and creative interests. Each day, the students take two classes taught by some of UW’s outstanding faculty members. Classes range from philosophy to hip-hop to robotics and pharmacy.

Henderson, who joined fellow SHS student Dylan Lindley and Fort Mackenzie High School student Benjamin Hairston at the HSI, selected to take courses in “Generating Art in a Virtual World” and “Hindu Epic.”

“My favorite class is the ‘Hindu Epic,’ taught by Dr. Barbara Logan,” Henderson says. “I find religions really interesting and it's really amazing how much I have learned in the short time being here. The instructors are very nice and I'm learning so much about religions and myself.”

Each year, Wyoming high schools nominate top sophomores, and a group of UW faculty members selects the students, who enjoy a rare opportunity to learn and exchange ideas without concern about grades or credits. The intent is to help students achieve their academic and personal potential, and cultivate leadership capabilities. The program is designed to expand students' horizons, develop their adaptability, creativity and critical thinking abilities; and heighten their sensitivity to future possibilities for themselves and society.

The experience has influenced Henderson’s educational plans, and she is considering attending UW.

“All the classrooms are very up-to-date with modern technology,” she says. “The more time I spend on campus, the more I really enjoy all of it. The campus is so pretty, and dorm life is pretty cool!”

The HSI experience goes beyond academics, though. Athletic activities, talent shows, picnics, community service, dances, outside speakers, attendance at local concerts and plays, visits to museums and enrichment excursions complement the three-week experience.

“It's tough to say what I have enjoyed the most here; there's so much,” Henderson says. “Probably most of all, though, I love the people. I'm not always the most outgoing, but everyone here really makes me feel right at home. They are all so smart and, just overall, really nice.”

The success of the program should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with it, says Duncan Harris, HSI director since 1998.

“Every year, the students delight us with their enthusiasm and inventiveness, and this is especially true this year,” Harris says. “From classes to their field trips to Saratoga, Centennial and Vedauwoo, the students show the intellectual enrichment that the program was created to foster. It’s a heartening experience for all of us.”

Henderson agrees.

“HSI has been a great experience,” she says.  “I would definitely recommend this program to any person interested.”

Photo:
Grace Henderson (left) of Sheridan visits with instructor Barbara Logan following a University of Wyoming High School Institute class on “Hindu Epic.” Henderson is among more than 80 sophomores from 50 Wyoming school districts attending the annual institute that allows the students to explore their intellectual, social and creative interests. (UW Photo)

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