Tuesday, July 3, 2012


When I was twelve, I got to spend six weeks in the summer of '68 on a great adventure, a long, strange trip; it was called the Special Opportunities Program, or S.O.P., and it was (purportedly)an educational program for high-intellect kids. We spent six weeks living and studying on a college campus (in our case, Oberlin College), taking high-school and college prep courses, and being exposed to art, literature, and the college experience itself. Being as this was 1968, that took on a whole new meaning. Our counselors were college seniors, from all backgrounds, but generally of a liberal mindset-we discussed the war, civil rights, the emerging roles of women and minorities, and our opinions were treated as valid. Also, we saw drug use, heard the newest of music, and the sexual revolution at play. Some of it was mystifying. One morning, we came into English class, and wee told we would view a film. When it was over, we were to write our impressions of what we saw, leaving the finished paper upon our desks, and continue on to the next class. The film we saw was the military footage of the liberation of Auschwitz. When we next had class, it was never mentioned. Years after S.O.P., I ran into a teacher who was on staff there at the time, and I asked him what it had all been about....he told me that, as far as he knew,the Special Opportunities Program was a government-funded study to discover (in his words)"what use could be made of genius-level, low-income children". Over the years, I've found very little else about it.

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