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Students shoot for stars at CCSU program

By Greg Gelpi

Zipping into the sky, disappearing in the glaring sun, rockets launched from the tennis courts of Clayton College & State University.

High school students from throughout the area fired off model rockets as part of Teen University, part of Clayton State's Continuing Education Division.

Science class isn't this fun during the school year, said Martin Vigil, a student at Evangel Temple Christian Academy in Rex.

"It's just been real fun," Vigil said.

Testing aerodynamics, he put two fins on the tube of the model rocket, as opposed to the three fins as the other students did, just to see what would happen.

Nervously counting down, he hit the button and his rocket lunged toward the moon, topping off at about 100 feet, Vigil said.

"It was better than I thought," he said.

Rocketry and aerodynamics were one part of the summer program. Students also performed a showcase at the Clayton State Theater with dancing and singing, including originals written by some of the teens.

"I don't know any other camps where kids write songs," said Sharrell Luckett, a performing arts specialist at Teen University. "It's been really good working with the kids. I really like the arts, and I really like kids."

Luckett, an actress herself, is spending the summer teaching drama to the teens during her break from teaching in the Fulton County school system.

"They are very talented especially for their age group," Luckett said. "They have very bright futures ahead of them."

One of those with a bright future is Jade McCracken, 15, she said.

"I like poetry and song-writing," McCracken said. "That's why I got into camp."

She wrote a song about breaking up with her boyfriend. Students performed the song during a showcase to wrap up the program.

Pointing out some of her artwork, Ashley Williams of McDonough showed her range of work, including yarn art, sand art and a painted keepsake box.

"It wasn't just one kind of painting like painting on a piece of paper," Williams said.

She said she also enjoyed the sports played at Teen University.

"With sports we got to play football and Frisbee and all those kinds of games," Williams said.

Teens at the Clayton State program also participated in computer classes, journalism classes and creative writing.

Teen University wrapped up its program Friday, but the Division of Continuing Education is starting Youth University today. Youth University, a program similar to Teen University, is for children ages 7 to 12. For more information, call the university at (770) 961-3550.