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STEAM powered
YSI program still going strong
Trace Bouldin, 9, enjoys YSI so much, he attended both weeks for the learning and fun experiences. The morning at Gilley Pool was a highlight for many, before lunch and on to other activities.

For 33 years, area youth have had the opportunity to participate in the Young Scholars Institute, utilizing the educational avenue to broaden their horizons and learn more about their community.
This year was no different with organizers using a STEAM theme with science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics all integrated into the curriculum. Over a two-week period, approximately 600 students, 18 staff members and 14 volunteer youth all participate in the activities.
“We attended a science museum, Schermerhorn Symphony Center, Jump Street, viewed a play at the Park Theater and enjoyed time at the pool, just to name a few,” said organizer Jimmy Haley. “It’s a wonderful program that has evolved to what it is today. We try to make education fun.”
The group moved its home base this year to West Elementary, due to construction at Bobby Ray Memorial. YSI has called several schools home, but more often Bobby Ray has been used.
“Everything has worked out well with the move,” said Haley. “West principal Michelle Lewis has been very gracious and great to work with, and the school is centrally located to a lot of areas filled with activity.”
Both Haley and co-organizer Carol Neal have been with the program many years, and are experiencing a déjà vu of sorts with some students. The YSI program has become multi-generational, as former students' children are now attending the school.
“It’s really strange,” said Haley. “As I realize I had some of these children’s parents years back, and reflects on the success of the program.”
Each year students engage in a service project, with this year students collecting food, medicines and feline related items to be donated to Kastaway Kitties. 
According to Neal this year’s YSI was a huge success, and offered many children a fun kick-off to summer.
The YSI program is so secure, the organizers have already chosen their theme for next year, People, Places and Things.