RANDOLPH, NJ - Two Randolph High School seniors are are making huge strides towards their future. Aaron Bennett and Sangho Lee were both selected to be be apart of two of the most prestige summer programs offered to high schoolers. Aaron Bennett was accepted to The New Jersey Scholar’s Program (NJSP) and Sangho Lee was accepted to New Jersey Governor’s School in the Sciences (NJGSS).
Both programs are highly selective and to even apply, an individual must be nominated. Even if nominated, there is a intense application process to go through in hopes of being narrowed down to be selected as a finalist.
Aaron Bennett is a well rounded student. During his junior year he was the debate team president and a member of the national honors society. Early in the beginning of the year, he was approached by administrator Deborah Holz who is in charge of nominations and submitting applications for RHS. Up to two applications can be sent from each school and Aaron was selected.
The NJSP is a five week long summer program at the Lawrenceville School that enables 39 of the most motivated high school students from around the country to embark on a inter-disciplinary college level learning journey. The mission of the school is to teach students to think in a new way by having them learn together by participating in small group seminars. The students sit through lectures and seminars much like college classes, and are required to do a 10-15 page research paper on a topic derived from their classes. Each year the program focuses on a specific area of study. This year the topic is "Climate Change and the Human Experience."
Upon notification that he was nominated, Aaron had to speak with his family about the program before deciding if he would continue with the application process. “Climate change wasn’t really something we learned about or thought about,” said Aaron but he decided to pursue the application. Aaron wrote four essays all approximately 500 words each, submitted a writing sample from school along with transcripts and obtained get a letter of recommendation.
By the end of February Bennett was notified that he was one of 150 finalists. On March 28 Aaron was invited to tour the school and participate in a group interview. The interviews consisted of a round table discussion with students split into groups of 4 along with a professor and Trustee. Going into the interview Aaron was confident, “I come from an activity where I public speak for fun,” said Bennett. “I was fairy confident coming out of the interview,” he said.
His public speaking skill definitely paid off. Aaron was accepted and moved in a few weeks ago. He is currently at the Lawrenceville school working hard. He has about three lectures/seminars a day on topics ranging from multi-disciplinary, history, anthropology and science literature. He said "It’s great and I look forward to “networking and being friends with 39 of the smartest people in the state.” Aaron said he enjoys living there and the only downfall is that there is no air-conditioning, but aside from that he’s looking forward to “adapting to the lifestyle (college) without gaining too much weight.”
Friend and fellow soon to be senior, Sangho Lee, went through a similar process to get his acceptance. Sangho is a science enthusiast. He participated in forensics, debate and lacrosse in his junior year. Summer of his freshman year, Sangho went on a church mission program with 10 other church members to Guatemala. In his time there there he worked with children and experienced work done with prosthetic limbs which inspired him to want to become a biomedical engineer.
With that goal in mind Sangho is involved a lot in science and medicine. He volunteers weekly at St. Claires hospital in Dover. For this summer, his plans were to intern at Memorial Cancer in New York City. He applied, but those plans were put on hold when he was notified that he was nominated along with a few other students by Deborah Holz as an applicant for New Jersey Governor’s School in the Science at Drew University. “I didn’t understand that it was really prestigous at first. It was just fun,” said Lee. Sangho discussed with his family and decided it was a good program to go into and save the intern for later. “I have a huge interest in science so Governor’s school just compliments that,” he said.
NJGSS is a three week residential program at Drew University for science enthused students that gives them a chance to gain exposure and hands-on research in the their area of interest. Students are required to attend classes much like college, but their core courses are science based consisting of; cell biology, archeology, chemistry and physics. Student’s also are required to have an individual lab twice a week as well as a group lab three times a week. The program is meant to broaden student's horizons in scientific research and provide exposure to a variety of scientific topics.
Much like his friend Aaron, Shangho went through a tough application process. “I was excited when I got nominated,” he said, but was skeptical about his odds of getting in when he compared himself to his fellow colleagues nominated. Nominees are based on classes, grades, how immersed the student is in sciences, extra curricular activities, percentile on standardized tests and PSAT/SAT scores. Sangho decided to continue the process, and learned in April that he was accepted.
Sangho moved in July 13 and said he’s "Looking forward to just hanging with friends and finally learn things I never got exposed to.”