Las Cruces Academy is a school for gifted or advanced children, or, we may say, advanced and motivated. We look for students who work well with us and with fellow students in an environment of strong academics with attention to emotional and social growth.
In the admissions process, we look to see whether the student is gifted or advanced and motivated. We do not demand that the child be both gifted and advanced, nor that he or she be either of these in all subjects – few of us are so gifted or advanced. In broad terms, the admissions process is used to gauge whether a student will thrive in an accelerated academic environment.
We have no rigid birthdate cutoffs, unlike most schools. Each child is an individual, hence, each child is an individual case for admission and placement. We place students in classes suitable for them.
The Application Form
The application forms for both younger and older students have questions related to giftedness and academic advancement. Academic advancement is relatively straightforward, and thus occupies a comparatively small portion of the application form.
Determination of giftedness is less simple, and more difficult with younger children. Because the majority of our students are accepted at an age for which formal testing is difficult,our initial assessment of giftedness focuses on behaviors and achievements common to gifted children. There is significant variation in areas of giftedness and how it is exhibited, leading to a large number of questions covering as much of that variety as possible. It is unlikely for even a profoundly gifted child to have “positive” answers for all, or even most, questions related to traits of gifted children. We simply look for signs that the prospective student is gifted in some way.
Letters of Recommendation
In reviewing letters of recommendation, we first look at who is doing the recommending. Is this a person who interacts with children in a professional setting? Would they have a solid basis for judging academic ability/achievement, as well as potential social issues we might have to consider? Are they in a position to make an essentially unbiased review of the prospective student? If the answers to these questions are sufficiently positive, we again look for a description of a gifted and/or advanced child.
We do not look to see that the letter of recommendation paints the exact same picture of the prospective student as the application form. On the contrary, if the letter of recommendation appears to be from the same perspective as the application form, we will doubt whether the letter is an unbiased expert opinion. This may cause us to discredit the letter and any future letters from that recommender.
If at all possible, we ask prospective students to visit for a day before we offer admission. During this day, they are treated as much like a regular student as possible. Our teachers evaluate their academic level, their social fit with their potential classmates, and as much of their academic ability as can be determined from a single day.