Center for Talented Youth

From Academic Kids

The Center for Talented Youth (CTY) is a gifted education program based at Johns Hopkins University.


General description

Started by Dr. Julian Stanley at Johns Hopkins University, CTY is the first program of its kind to identify academically talented youths and provide learning opportunites. Over the years, it has provided summer camps at college campuses where students benefit from an enriched learning environment that is difficult to attain in traditional schools. More recently, CTY has provided distance learning opportunites to students around the world.

CTY has three age levels for students wishing to enter their summer programs. Each one has its own sites, achievement tests, and classes.

Students in the 2nd to 4th grade must take the CTY-administered SCAT exam. If their scores are high enough, they may attend a day camp in Baltimore, Maryland or West Los Angeles, California. Only students who live near these areas may attend these camps.

Students in grades 5 through 6 take the PLUS test and go to residential camps in various colleges around the country.

Students in 7th to 11th grade take the SAT. Those with qualifying scores may attend residential programs at different sites than the 5-6 age level. This oldest group often calls the two younger groups "baby CTY", although not always pejoratively. CTY has recently added another summer program called CAA (Center for Academic Advancement), which has lower cutoff scores than CTY.

In addition, the Civic Leadership Institute (grades 8-12) hosts 80 students a year. A marriage between Northwestern's Civic Education Project and CTY with the same academic requirements as CAA, the CLI service-learning program was hosted last year at the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore, MD.

CTY operates in Alaska, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia.

CTY culture

Many CTY sites are home to their own unique traditions; however, the one shared by all sites is the playing of "American Pie" at the end of each weekly dance. Some sites, including Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, PA, Dickinson College in Carlisle, PA, Siena College in Loudonville, NY, and Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, NY, have a list of additional songs that are played at every dance. This list is known as the Canon ( Other songs that are common at most sites include "Stairway to Heaven", "It's the End of the World as we Know It (And I feel fine)", and "Time Warp".

There has long been animosity between ballerinas, known as "rinas" (female) or "rinos" (male) of the Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet Association and CTY students at Dickinson College in Carlisle, PA, as well as at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, NY.

Although culture varies widely from site to site, many CTY students have a general affection for Monty Python, Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Rocky Horror Picture Show, Frisbee (especially Ultimate frisbee), and the card games Egyptian Rat Screw and Mao [1] ( Most sites typically have a form of "Fairy Princess Day", or "Drag Day" when many boys can be seen in drag. Some sites recently have had both "Fairy Princess Day" and "Gender Bender Day."

CTY students in their final year of eligibility are referred to as "nevermores"; those who will be eligible the following year but don't plan to attend are known as "no-mores" at some sites, while at others the same names are applied in reverse. Students who are simultaneously first-years and nevermores/nomores are "one-shots" or "spores" or "sperm" or "squirrels". Nevermores and no-mores are sent away with "passionfruit", a ritual held the morning of the last day of camp that involves telling stories, sharing memories, and drinking passionfruit juice (

Life in the CTY program

Life during the three weeks at CTY is carefully structured. Students are required to be awake by a particular hour, though they have some flexibility in which time they go to breakfast before their first class of the day. The first class period lasts approximately three hours, usually with a short break; students then eat lunch and spend two more hours in a classroom before participating in a "daily" and "weekly" activity from a list presented the previous evening. Afterwards, they proceed to dinner. Some evenings include talent shows or dances, but most have a two-hour "study hall" followed by recreational time (sometimes called Meet/Meat Market). Lights go out at 10:30.

Classes move at a very rapid pace, sometimes covering as much as one year of high school in three weeks. There are no grades, very little of what students might call "busywork", and no homework—in fact, studying outside of class is essentially prohibited. At the end of the program, the parents of each student receive a personalized teacher report.

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