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Save-the-World Summer Camp
Save-the-World Summer Camp
Posted on 08/07/2017
By: Benjamin Rickert, Communications Department

The stereotypical “lazy summer” just wasn’t going to cut it for Rebekah Vigil-Escobedo.

The rising sixth grader from Oakley Elementary jumped in with both feet when she learned about a unique summer camp for gifted students, hosted by Duke University and themed around saving the world from a deadly virus. At Duke’s Talent Identification program (TIP) “crisis” camp held at Agnes Scott College in Georgia, students were accepted by application, and then worked in research teams to prevent a fictional H7N9 influenza outbreak from reaching pandemic proportions. According to Duke's website, the camp "lets gifted young scholars try out an exciting profession while learning academic, leadership, and teamwork skills." Rebekah, part of BCS’ Academically/Intellectually Gifted (AIG) program, choose to fight the virus through the Finance and Global Economy team.

Rebekah Vigil-Escobedo“At first, my finance team couldn't do anything to help with the making of the vaccine,” Rebekah explained, because the Biomedical Engineering students still had to develop the medicine needed to fight the pandemic.

During this time, Rebekah and her teammates prepared by learning about financial principles such as bank interest, as well as how greed or opportunity cost might affect their problem solving. After other students developed the vaccine, Rebekah’s team determined its cost and how it would be sold.

At Oakley, Rebekah was encouraged to apply for the camp by her AIG teacher, Mr. Chris Schmidt, and fifth-grade teacher, Mrs. Sherie Ryan-Bailey.

“As AIG teachers, one of our jobs is to look for enrichment opportunities for our students,” said Schmidt, who just completed his twenty-first year of teaching. “Sometimes these opportunities lie beyond the classroom walls.”

For gifted students who prefer another learning option, Duke TIP offers a variety of online summer courses for independent learning. Another Oakley student, Daniel Coltrain, is participating in this way and is able to enrich his summer while studying from home.

Rebekah's crisis camp had some lighter moments, too, such as when students toured Atlanta’s World of Coca-Cola to learn about the company’s history and economic influence. There was also time during the week-long camp for making new friends from across the country.

Rebekah called the camp an “amazing, phenomenal learning experience” and is grateful to her parents and teachers for encouraging her to apply.

Duke TIP Crisis Camp“They all told me to go for it and that they believed in me,” she said. “I’ll never forget the fact that I had the opportunity to experience college life at 11 years old!”

Schmidt was excited to see Rebekah use time during the summer to invest in her bright future.

“Gifted students have diverse interests and needs so it's wonderful to see students like Rebekah pursue programs that allow them to have new experiences, meet new people, and pursue their passions,” he said. “I feel it's an important part of our job to encourage young people in this way."

Photos provided by the Escobedo family and used by permission.

Learn more about AIG at Buncombe County Schools.
Learn more about the Duke TIP CRISIS camp.

Buncombe County Schools is in the process of reviewing its website to ensure compliance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Buncombe County Schools does not discriminate on the basis of sex in its education programs or activities and is required by Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 and federal regulations to not discriminate in such a manner. This requirement extends to admission and employment. Inquiries about the application of Title IX and its implementing federal regulations may be referred to the Title IX Coordinator and/or the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights in the Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education. The Title IX Coordinator's contact information is: Shanon Martin,, 828-255-5918, 175 Bingham Road, Asheville, NC 28806.

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