By Todd Martin
Special to the Daily Herald
TEMPLE - Stepping into a meeting room at Temple College, 71 top high school students started down a pathway Wednesday with one foot in high school and the other in college.
They call it Middle College. Qualified juniors and seniors in Bell County high schools split their school day between their high school and the Texas Bioscience Institute at the west campus of Scott & White Healthcare.
During orientation, those students received Temple College T-shirts and took part in some icebreaker games as they heard from college administrators about their opportunities as students in TBI.
Speakers shared facts about the athletics program, as well as fine arts, student life activities and academic services such as a math lab, writing center, library and bookstore.
Called SPOTS Camp, the Temple College orientation is Student Preparatory Orientation Training Sessions and its name also suggests the school's Leopard mascot.
The hope, college administrators said, is that the high school students would find time to enter into some aspects of college life, perhaps taking in a basketball game, checking out a jazz concert or jumping into a service project.
Mostly, though, they will go to class and study in college-level math and science courses and receive exposure to bioscience research and weekly tutoring sessions.
The high school students, who will commute to the college campus daily, either for morning sessions or afternoon sessions, receive Temple College ID badges and a free parking decal, giving them the same discounts and freebies other college students receive.
Following the three-hour student orientation, the first-year students took part in the annual white coat ceremony, each receiving a white lab coat in a rite of passage welcoming them into the world of medical-related research.
Shoemaker High School senior Darius Tolbert was one of several second-year TBI students assisting with the orientation of first-year students.
"They will get a jump-start on college," Tolbert said. "It's not quite college, but it takes dedication and commitment. You do make sacrifices, but it's totally worth it."
Students typically earn 13 to 15 hours a semester in the two-year TBI program. Many take summer classes or add online courses to earn the 64 hours required for an associate's degree and some acquire up to 70 hours.
Jordan Jones, an Ellison High School junior, said she was drawn to the bioscience program because of her interest in the medical field.
"I like to take care of people and I love math and science - those are things I can do," she said. "This sounds like a great program. I have friends here. It's supposed to be hard, but I'll study."
Desmond Lewis-Anderson, also an Ellison junior, said he was excited to try something different and wanted to get a head start in his chosen field of biomedical engineering.
"It relates well to what I want to do," he said.
2011 Texas Bioscience Institute White Coat recipients
Ellison High School
Jonathan Barker, Brianna Hatfield, Brittany Hoesley, Jacob Icmat, Jordan Jones, Kate Kearney, Desmond Lewis-Anderson, Aris Maguddayao, Aaron Oldham, Christen Richardson, Audrey Shepherd, Talia Tunstill and Amanda Unitt
Harker Heights High School
Genevieve Cozzini, Garret Hart, Gennady Kutovoy, Kristen Mellberg, Veronica Miller, Allison Rogers, Zachary Seal, Shelbi Shaffer, Zachary Snider, John Sorenson, Natasha Thomas and Deanna Turck
Killeen High School
Jozlyn Boykin, Storm Boykin and Quishon Walker
Shoemaker High School
Naomi Cruz, Anfernee Folks, Diamond Hightower, Carol Isaac, Davian Quitano, Carolina Romero, Neomary Soriano, Rolando Uribe and Jailyn Walker
Academy High School
Morgan Merriman and Ashley Scott
Belton High School
Caleb Jones, Carlee Kemp, Danielle Klare, Katherine Norelli, Joshua Reynolds and Laith Wahab
Bruceville-Eddy High School
Kelsey Lance and Paden Love
Chilton High School
Bryce Bobo and Brianna Hall
Rogers High School
Rosebud-Lott High School
Salado High School
Marcene Grimsley, Katelyn Kunz, Mattie Price, Jacob Tauferner and Christian Wilkerson
Temple High School
Luisa Aldana, Mariah Amador, Jacob Bullecer, Hailey-Alexis Camacho, Kennedy Drew, Jazarrion Ellsworth, Tyra Jordan, Marissa Mares, Kyle McCoy, Katie Messer, Krista Santiago, Christopher Steffan, Courteney Summers and Jasmin Taylor