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DU’s Ricks Center celebrates 25th anniversary with its students

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Nationally recognized school a model for other gifted and talented programs around the country


DENVER –The University of Denver’s Ricks Center in the Morgridge College of Education celebrated its 25th anniversary much the way it began – engaging students in enriching, thematic activities. During the celebration, more than 250 students, parents and school staff participated in individual, community and group projects with sustainability in mind.  Students planted bulbs, vines, trees and shrubs in the courtyard; painted rocks in the style of the book “Only One You”; and created mobiles made from silver-colored recycled household items to commemorate the Center’s silver anniversary.

According to Norma Lu Hafenstein, PhD, Ricks Center founder and director, the celebration is “an integrated learning experience that acknowledges not only each individual student, but our role in the larger community, advocating sustainability and concern for our future.” As a doctoral student at DU in 1984, Hafenstein was one of the organizers of a summer program for gifted preschoolers as part of the University’s School of Education.  The summer program was so well-received it grew into a year round school serving preschool through eighth grade.

“As we begin our next 25 years, we will continue to encourage broader community awareness and personal commitment,” Hafenstein says.  “We wanted our celebration to reflect the same kind of learning our students experience every day.  We can’t just have a party – we’re having a learning experience with ice cream,” she adds.

Hafenstein says that over 300 students have graduated from Ricks over the past quarter century and hundreds more have participated in the programs. “Our alumni have attended the most prestigious secondary schools and universities in the country, and have gone on to be change agents in our world, in roles ranging from rocket scientists to educators, physicians to film directors, working in our local community and around the world,” Hafenstein says. But, it is not just the students that make Ricks tick. She notes that the Center’s programs, which have been a model for other gifted and talented programs around the country, are administered by “an extraordinary staff that actively engages and addresses the emotional, intellectual, aesthetic, physical and social needs” of gifted children.

The silver anniversary will be celebrated throughout the year with events that include parent education workshops, an alumni celebration, community outreach activities and a conference focused on the highly gifted.

The Ricks Center educational program has been accredited since April 1997, by the North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement (NCACASI). The school’s partner organization, the Institute for the Development of Gifted Education, provides outreach services, publication of curriculum units and professional monographs, research projects, and training and conferences in Gifted Education.


The University of Denver is committed to improving the human condition and tackling the major issues of our day. Combining academics with groundbreaking research, a global reach and a legacy of dedication to the public good, DU is leading the way to the future.  The oldest private university in the Rocky Mountain West with more than 11,400 students in undergraduate and graduate study, DU is a nationally recognized research university and ranks among the top 100 Universities in the U.S.

Contact:  Kim DeVigil
Phone: (303) 871-2775

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