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Local Student Recognized by Duke Gifted Program

Isabella Picone, a rising 8th-grade student at Midway Middle School was recently honored for achieving an exceptional Math score on the SAT, the same test taken by college bound high school students. Isabella took this above-grade-level test as a participant in the Duke University Talent Identification Program (Duke TIP). Duke TIP is a nonprofit organization that recognizes academically talented students and provides advanced learning opportunities that foster their intellectual and social growth. Isabella was not able to be recognized at the state ceremony because of the Covid-19 pandemic. In lieu of that, Isabella’s math teacher, Ms. Joy Kennedy, was honored to recognize Isabella during the school’s drive-by iPad and book pickup on Aug. 6th.

Ms. Kennedy was also joined by Band Director Mr. Brandon Collins, Gifted ELA teacher Mrs. Yavonda Swinson, and Social Studies teacher Mrs. Nancy Probst. It was also Isabella’s 13th birthday and all four teachers sang Happy Birthday to Isabella as well.

Each year, Duke TIP identifies a select group of students as academically gifted, based on their standardized test scores. Those students are invited to take the ACT or SAT, which can provide crucial insight into a gifted student’s strengths and abilities. The highest scorers among these students are invited to a special recognition ceremony, typically hosted at one of over two dozen colleges and universities. While the in-person ceremonies were postponed this year, Duke TIP celebrated these students’ academic achievements by providing their families an at-home ceremony toolkit. For more on Duke TIP, including qualification requirements for its Talent Search Program, visit

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