Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics
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The Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics (OSSM) is a two-year, public residential high school located in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Established by the Oklahoma state legislature in 1983, the school was designed to educate academically gifted high school juniors and seniors in advanced mathematics and science. OSSM opened doors to its inaugural class in 1990. It is a member of the National Consortium for Specialized Secondary Schools of Mathematics, Science and Technology.
Of approximately two hundred applicants each year, 125 are selected for interviews and about 90 high school sophomores from across the state are admitted. The application process consists of five short essays, submission of high school transcripts and standardized test scores (such as the ACT), recommendations from teachers and counselors, personal questionnaires of the student, a statement from the student's parents, and an on-campus interview.
Students are accepted from all over the state of Oklahoma, and students from each of Oklahoma's 77 counties have been selected to attend. Because students hail from across the state, all are required to live on campus during the week, though students living nearby often return home on weekends. Classes are held five days a week, with the earliest classes starting at 8am and the latest ending at 5:30pm. Some classes, such as astronomy lab and special topics classes, are held at night. Most students have breaks throughout the day depending on their individual, college-style schedule. Students are not allowed in the dorm during their breaks in the academic day, but are to stay academically engaged during these periods. Required physical education classes are held in the afternoon with each student participating in 45 minutes of supervised physical activity twice a week. Fine arts classes (two semesters are required for graduation) are also held in the evenings. One Saturday a month, students are required to take a three-hour test in math, physics, literature, history, or a national standardized test (ACT, SAT, or PSAT). Two weekends a month is called an open weekend, with the students allowed to either go home or stay in the dorms, and the other weekend is an extended weekend with all students required to leave campus.
To study at OSSM, students have to give up some luxuries of the outside world, such as cell phones, personal televisions (a communal TV is available in the basement lounge), DVDs, video games, and access to social media and other recreational websites; students are also not allowed to keep appliances in their rooms. Two hours of study are required each weeknight from 8-10pm, with students on structured study (resulting from unfortunate grades) required to study for an additional hour each night, beginning at 7pm. Lights out is at 11pm every night of the week, and internet access is shut off in the dormitories at that time. OSSM fulfills its educational mission at no charge to its students: tuition, books and other class materials, as well as room and board, are all provided by the taxpayers of the State of Oklahoma.
One hundred percent of OSSM graduates are college-bound, and approximately 60% of OSSM graduates choose to remain in-state for college. Of the 1,211 (as of May 2011) graduates since the school's inception, 323 students have been named National Merit Scholars, and an additional 167 students have been selected as National Merit Commended Scholars. Graduates also show exemplary performance in other national scholarship programs, with 227 graduates selected as Robert C. Byrd Scholars, and 124 students nominated for the Presidential Scholars Program, of whom thirteen were named semifinalists and five selected as Presidential Scholars. Graduates excel in statewide scholarship programs, with 553 students receiving Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education Scholarships and 92 students named Academic All-Staters by the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence. Twice, in 1998 and again in 2000, the school had the highest ACT composite scores of any high school in the nation. OSSM is also listed as one of the best public high schools in the nation by the Washington Post, in a list of top-performing schools with elite students.
OSSM's graduation requirements include four semesters of History, four semesters of Literature, two years of the same foreign language (unless this was completed at the student's previous high school), one semester of computer science, four semesters of mathematics including math through Calculus II, three semesters of physics including physics through Electricity and Magnetism, two semesters of chemistry, two semesters of biology, four semesters of physical education, two semesters of fine arts, and two semesters of science, math, or computer science electives. OSSM regularly offers the following classes:
- Biology: Zoology, Plant and Soil Science, Genetics, Anatomy and Physiology, Endocrinology, Embryology, Microbiology, Molecular and Cellular Biology, Psychology, and Neuroscience.
- Chemistry: Introduction to Chemistry, General Chemistry I, General Chemistry II, Organic Chemistry I, Organic Chemistry II, Biochemistry, and Physical Chemistry.
- Computer Science: Introduction to Computer Science, Object Oriented Programming with Java, Data Structures I, Data Structures II, Computer Architecture, and Operating Systems.
- Foreign Languages: Chinese, French, German, Japanese, Latin, and Spanish.
- Geoscience: Exploration Geoscience, Geoscience Seminar
- Humanities: American Literature, World Literature, American History, East Asian History, Arab Civilization, American Film, Music, and Society, Foreign Policy, and Western Civilization
- Physics: General Physics, Mechanics, Electricity and Magnetism, Thermal Waves and Optics, Astronomy, Modern Physics I, Modern Physics II, Electronic Circuits, and Theoretical Physics.
- Mathematics: Pre-Calculus II, Pre-Calculus III, Calculus I, Calculus II, Multivariate Calculus, Differential Equations, Linear Algebra, and Probability and Statistics.
- Elective Courses: Abstract Algebra (Mathematics), Chemical Thermodynamics (Chemistry), Real Analysis (Mathematics), Foundations of Mathematics (Mathematics), and other classes have also been offered.
- Fine Arts: Jazz Band, Beginning Guitar, Intermediate Guitar, Drawing, Mixed Media, Sculpture, Abstract Painting, Fiber Arts, Photography, Ballroom Dance, Studio Dance, and Mosaics.
Additionally, students may arrange to take directed studies with faculty members. Many OSSM students choose to participate in the mentorship program in their senior year, in which they perform research with a mentor (who may be an OSSM faculty member, or an off campus expert).
OSSM is located on sprawling thirty-three acres at the northwest corner of 10th Avenue and Lincoln Boulevard near downtown Oklahoma City, near the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center. Its main academic building, Lincoln School, was built in 1903, and used as an elementary school in Oklahoma City Public Schools until the 1980s. This building houses a computer lab, the campus auditorium, nineteen classrooms, six labs, a student lounge, a sun-bathed study area, basement, and faculty and administrative offices. The Dan Little Residence Hall, with a capacity of nearly 300 students and twelve faculty families, was completed in 1998, located at the center of campus, complete with a basement containing billiards, game tables, and a TV for students to use during their nightly free time. The basement is also a reinforced storm shelter and is large enough to house the entire school population. The Gymnasium, opened in March 1999, provides a full-size basketball court, a weight room, and a dance floor, among other amenities. The Samson Science and Discovery Center was completed in 2001 and houses three chemistry labs (complete with hoods for chemical reactions), four physics labs, one computer lab, and one demonstration/lecture room, as well as many personal research labs. In Fall 2003, the Senator Bernice Shedrick Library opened, with a capacity of 50,000 books and 10 computers for student use.
- Student Body: 144
- Average Class Size: 15-18, though many upper-level classes are smaller
- Male-Female Ratio: 1:1
- Frank Y. H. Wang, Ph.D., President
- Bill Kuehl, M.B.A., Dean of Admissions, Registrar