College Academy Opens For High School Students

One hundred and twenty high school students from around Kentucky are on a college campus, making history as the first class at Kentucky's new Academy for Mathematics and Science.

The academy has been named after a Tennessee businessman.

Though he never attended Western, he still has a love for education.

When first approached about being a donor of Kentucky's Academy of Mathematics and Science, C.M. Gatton, or "Bill" as he's known, researched the other thirteen states who have similar programs.

"My staff and I contacted every one of them with the exception of one. They all raved about what it had done for their students and their communities, and what an opportunity it was to attend the academies," Gatton explained.

He also looked at how math and science play a major role in the business world and his life and decided to sign on.

"There's no question that in order to compete in a world economy, you've got to have people that are bright. Then you've got to train them in math and engineering, physics and sciences, and so forth," Gatton continued.

And his generosity hasn't gone unnoticed by those very students his money will benefit.

"People who haven't even known what the outcome is going to be or what we're going to do in life are just putting their money and effort and help into it," academy student Abby Smithhart said.

Ask Gatton why he gave so much and he'll answer back with his favorite saying from Benjamin Franklin.

"He said to 'Store your wealth in your brain and no one can steal it from you,' " Gatton reminded.

He hopes by giving these gifted minds the tools they need, they can find their own way to success.

"Not only will it help them to make money and be more successful, but there's no telling what they might invent. But they can be teachers and teach a lot of others what they've learned here," Gatton said.

Which might be the greatest donation of all.

Gatton already contributes to several scholarships on the Hill.

Classes for the inaugural class of the "Carol Martin Gatton" Academy will begin Aug. 27.

For more on the Academy of Mathematics and Science, click here.

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