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Summer Laureate Celebrates 45 Years

Two young children analyze a piece of paper on a table through a device made out of solo cups.
Elementary school children participate in gifted and talented programs during UA Little Rock’s Summer Laureate University for Youth camp in 2022. Photo by Benjamin Krain.

On July 8, UA Little Rock’s campus will be filled with children in grades K-6 who are attending the Summer Laureate University for Youth program, also known as SLUFY. This year’s program represents a milestone as it marks the 45th year of the program.

According to its website, “Summer Laureate University for Youth (SLUFY) is an educational summer program that provides unique learning experiences for high-ability students to explore and expand their talents and abilities.”

Organized by UA Little Rock’s Jodie Mahony Center for Gifted Education, the camp runs in the afternoons from July 8 through July 19, Monday through Friday. Each year, more than 300 students who have completed grades K-6 attend.

As one of the longest running campus-based enrichment programs in the United States, the program estimates that more than 13,500 students from across the country have attended SLUFY.

Established in 1979, Summer Laureate came to fruition after masters student Martha Gaunt Bass envisioned the program as part of her masters thesis in the gifted education program at UA Little Rock. Bass went on to become a long-serving state director of gifted programs at the Arkansas Department of Education.

“She was always proud of the success of the program, and I know she would be glad to know that it continues,” said Judge Ellen Brantley, daughter of Martha Gaunt Bass. “She has four grandchildren, and each of them attended SLUFY.”

A young child sets a light bulb atop an electrical device in a classroom with two students watching off to the side.
Students conduct science experiements in a class called “Weather Warriors” during SLUFY 2023. Photo by Lisa Plischke.

The legacy of Bass continues on throughout the program through the Martha Gaunt Bass Summer Laureate Scholarship Fund, which offers a scholarship to a SLUFY attendee based on academic achievement and financial need. For the 2024 program, $4,500 in scholarships were awarded.

“Forty-five years ago, we benefited from Martha’s vision and from the commitment of UA Little Rock to this wonderful opportunity for children to develop their interests and talents,” said Dr. Ann Robinson, director of the Jodie Mahony Center for Gifted Education. “The Mahony Center staff who organize and plan for the program beginning in September love to see it come to life each July. Our thanks to the Little Rock community who support children’s curiosity, engagement, and learning on our campus through Summer Laureate.”

Each year, new classes are created based on children’s interests and popular culture. The program’s curriculum is created by UA Little Rock School of Education graduate students who are placed in a field experience, by master teachers who are Summer Laureate veterans, and by teachers who are seeking a graduate degree in gifted, creative, and talented education.

With 24 new classes this summer, SLUFY has offerings that cover a number of interests—from bugs, cooking, and superheroes to roller coaster design and every topic in between. Classes are divided based on grade level: those who have completed kindergarten, grades 1-2, grades 3-4, and grades 5-6.

For a list of classes and descriptions, visit the program’s website.

Although registration for the 2024 program is now closed, you can donate to the Martha Gaunt Bass Summer Laureate Scholarship Fund through UA Little Rock’s Giving page. All donations support scholarships for children who are unable to afford the program.

For questions about SLUFY, contact or call 501-916-3410.