Scholars Academy at Central

June 25-29, 2023
Hastings Campus

For gifted and talented students across Nebraska. . .

The Scholars Academy at Central (SAC) is a premier one-week summer program for gifted and talented students who have just completed sixth, seventh, or eighth grade. This year's SAC is Sunday, June 25 to Thursday, June 29, 2023.

The Scholars Academy at Central is a great place for scholars to come together, make new friends among their intellectual peers, and experience small academic classes designed to provide challenging and enriching opportunities in robotics, science, and literature.

Staffed by highly regarded professionals from surrounding colleges and metro areas, the residential program combines classroom learning with a variety of social and cultural events. This camp has been engaging talented, high ability learners for over three decades.  While the location of the camp has changed over the years, the quality of instruction and opportunities for learning continue to help students expand their knowledge and ability to think innovatively. 

During their stay, scholars get a preview of college life. They room in campus residence halls under the supervision of SAC directors and college students who serve as their resident advisors and social group leaders. Leaders, professors, and students eat all meals together in the Central Community College cafeteria. There are several food choices for each meal, and we work to accommodate any special dietary needs. A registered nurse is also on call for students’ health needs.


Current students who have just completed sixth, seventh, or eighth grade who have a proven ability in communications, language arts or science are eligible to apply. 

To participate, scholars must meet ONE of the following criteria:

  • Participation in a gifted program at school, or
  • Score at the 95th percentile or above in at least one area on a standardized achievement test such as the Iowa Test of Basic Skills, ACT, SAT, CAT or CTBS, or
  • One letter of nomination from school official.

Additionally, all campers will need to have a school counselor complete a brief form about the scholar’s learning styles and strengths as well as their ability to work with others.

Program Details about classes being offered will be updated soon!

Registration Instructions

Registration will remain open until the program reaches capacity, but we encourage the schedule below to guarantee your scholar a place. Once online registration is complete and the non-refundable $100 deposit is received, you will receive an information packet with additional forms that need to be completed and returned. Registration is complete when full payment and all forms are returned.

Register online

Registration deadline for 2023 – June 1


Apply and submit your deposit by June 1. The total registration fee of $550 is due by June 19. The program includes tuition, room, board, activities, and professional staff and educators. If you have a student on the free or reduced lunch plan, we have scholarships to help offset the cost. Just let us know when you submit the application.

No refunds are available unless the event is canceled. If the event is canceled, a full refund will be processed.


Below are the classes offered in 2023. Click a title to expand and view details about the section.

Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Amongst Scholars

Are you ready to dive into a world of adventure and imagination? Look no further than this exciting course! By participating in the popular tabletop role-playing game, Dungeons & Dragons, scholars will unlock a world of creativity and learning opportunities. Throughout the course, students will develop valuable skills in creative writing, story structure, graphic design, and text analysis.

This varied learning experience ensures that your scholar will be engaged and challenged throughout the course. From crafting compelling characters to designing visually stunning posters, students will have the opportunity to explore their interests and passions in a fun and supportive environment.


Patrick White, MAT, Communications Director, ACX Cinema 12+ and Movie Reviewer, Hastings Tribune. Patrick has been a part of Scholars Academy for 8 years serving in various capacities including Resident Assistant, instructor, and assistant director.

Jeffery Sokol, General Manager of the Grand Island 7 AMC Classic Theater. Jeffery has been a Resident Assistant for Scholars Academy for 4 years and has been providing quality enrichment activities for our Scholars during his time at SAC.

Robotics: Design & Coding Skills for the Next Frontier

Through advanced hands-on work, scholars will design, build, and code Lego NXT robots. This hands-on work will give students the chance to learn and utilize skills and strategies related to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math while incorporating the Engineering Design Process. This course will challenge scholars to innovate various robot designs to guide their robot over and through various terrains.

The basics of coding will be taught in a block-style format utilizing the Lego NXT software, which will prepare the students for future coding courses taught in high school and college. We will end the week with a robot competition to utilize what the scholars have learned and challenge their fellow classmates!


Rennick Turner, Hastings College Chemistry Major, has 5 years of robotic building experience including being the State runner-up at the VEX Robotics Competition 2017 and 2018 and a National qualifier in 2017. Rennick currently works as a Laboratory Technician at Hastings College and is well known for his ability to run sound and lighting equipment for the College at various events.

Rebecca Horton, ophthalmic technician in Colorado, has 8 years of robotics building experience and was the State runner-up at the VEX Robotics Competition in 2017 and 2018 and a national qualifier in 2017. Rebecca holds a record at the VEX World Competition from both 2015 and 2016. Additionally, her skills and abilities have allowed her to machine pieces that are currently in use on the Mars rover.

BioBlitz & Beyond: Right Here in Nebraska

Sometimes it is easy to forget about your own backyard when you start to look for amazing adventures! This year, find more about what’s waiting outside your door! You will identify diverse plants and animals in a BioBlitz - a race to identify as many organisms as possible in a short period of time. How about making a tie-dye shirt with natural dyes! Have you ever wondered why dyes make color? Together we will look at the molecular structures that color our world.

Have you always wondered what it would be like to be an engineer? Let’s build a hut and see what challenges it can endure! What about trying to design a boat? You will have the opportunity to do both while as SAC! Try out design ideas for the Kardboard boat race by making a mini boat out of graph paper, cardboard, duct tape, and Elmer’s glue. Then you can calculate the load your boat should be able to carry and put it to the test after building is complete!

Whether you are interested in biology, chemistry, engineering, or art - there is something here for you! Each day we’ll have a snack or drink highlighting Nebraska.


Amanda Solem, PhD, Assistant Professor and Department Chair of Biology, Hastings College

Avery McKennan, BA, Biology & Secondary Education, Hastings College

Academy Schedule

Opening Day • Sunday, June 25

3:00-3:45 p.m. — Residence Hall check-in (Clay Hall)

4:00-4:30 p.m. — SAC welcome to students and their parents in Cottonwood Room (Hall

Student Union)

4:30-5:00 p.m. — Teachers meet with students and parents in their classrooms

5:00-5:30 p.m. — Parents depart, and students get settled in their dorm room

5:30-6:30 p.m. — Dinner and games for students/ staff on lawn in front of Hall Student Union

6:30-7:30 p.m. — Social groups

7:30-8:30 p.m. — Opening class (classrooms)

8:30-9:30 p.m. — Social groups

9:30-10:00 p.m. — Residence hall time

10:00 p.m. — Lights out!

Daily Schedule for Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday (June 26-28)

8:00-8:30 a.m. — Breakfast

8:30-11:30 a.m. — Class

11:45 a.m.-12:15 p.m. — Lunch

12:30-3:30 p.m. — Class

3:30-5:00 p.m. — Organized activity

5:30-6:30 p.m. — Dinner

6:30-7:15 p.m. — Social groups

7:30-9:30 p.m. — Evening group activity

9:30-10:00 p.m. — Residence hall time

10:00 p.m. — Lights out!

Final Day • Thursday, June 29

8:00-8:30 a.m. — Breakfast

8:30-11:30 a.m. — Class

11:45 a.m.-12:15 p.m. — Lunch

12:30-3:30 p.m. — Class

3:30-4:30 p.m. — Residence hall checkout/parents pick up students


All questions for the Scholars Academy at Central should be directed to:

Dr. Susan Oliver, SAC Director, 550 Technical Blvd, P.O. Box 1024, Hastings, NE 68901-1024

Checkout our Facebook page to stay up to date with SAC and view photos and activities from previous years.

Camp Administration

Susan Oliver, Ph.D. (director), Nutrition Professor at Central Community College. She has taught at Scholars Academy for 6 years.