For three weeks each June, qualified students take enrichment classes from 9am until 4pm, Monday through Thursday, and from 9am until noon on Fridays. Each student chooses a “major” from nine possible courses of study: Business, Culinary Arts, Drama/Musical Theater, Journalism, Mock Trial, Psychology, Rock Opera, Science, and Visual Arts. Students spend approximately ten hours per week (30 hours total) exploring their chosen majors with teachers who are experts in their respective fields. Exploratory overview classes (“electives”) are offered the remainder of the day. Students can choose up to 9 different electives. These classes meet for 4 days one hour each day and change each week. So, a student is challenged and offered opportunities to explore a wide range of subject areas.
        The Senior DECATS community is especially nurturing to students and facilitates an environment of acceptance and positive leadership. The program has shown itself to have a lasting effect that benefits both participating students as well as their communities. One of the cornerstones of the program is community service.. All graduates are required to participate in a community service project that includes planning and implementing a fundraiser dance and other student generated activities. Typically, Senior DECATS students have continued in leadership roles in high school, showing a strong awareness of community service and civic responsibility. The students have gone on to specialized leadership programs with representation in National Hispanic Institute, African American Peace Program INTERACT, Asian Community Future Business Leadership Program as well as in Key Club, National Honor Society, Student Council, and National Merit Finalists. Self-awareness, leadership and responsibility to the community are all qualities that need to be explored and nurtured in order to maximize human potential. The Senior DECATS program fosters these qualities and fine-tunes skills that young talented and gifted adolescents need in order to contribute to a complex and changing society.
        In 2013 there was a total of 261 scholars: 128 (49% of student body) rising 7th graders, twelve years old or younger 95% (120) of the sixth graders attending the program had attended Junior DECATS and were continuing the DECATS experience begun in third grade. Approximately 15% (24) of the seventh and eighth grade students were returning to the program after taking off a year and approximately 18% (50) of the students were attending a DECATS program for the first time. It is accurate to say that a vast majority of the Senior DECATS scholars participate in both Junior and Senior DECATS, creating a six year experience with far reaching results. Representatives from 28 schools in the Dallas Diocese attended.
        Based on the results of Iowa Test of Basic Skills (ITBS) achievement test, nominees must be in the 97th percentile or above, in two or more of the curricular areas (Vocabulary, Reading, Language, Math, Science, Social Studies) and achieve a minimum composite total of 115 on the Cognitive Abilities Test (CogAT). Additionally, current teachers must rate behavior and attitude of students using a 1-5 scale. Finally, artistically talented students (Visual Arts, Drama or Music) can apply with a letter of recommendation from a current teacher that describes the student’s outstanding talents. Students that qualify in this way are considered only if there is room in the program.

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