• Last modified 1915 days ago (April 17, 2019)


Aspiring astronaut to attend STEM academy

Staff writer

As a first step toward fulfilling her dream to become an astronaut, 15-year-old Sarah Spencer of Peabody has accepted an invitation to attend the Kansas Academy of Mathematics and Science at Fort Hays State University for her junior and senior years.

The Peabody-Burns sophomore was bubbling with enthusiasm April 9 when she formally signed with the school.

Sarah’s application included short answers and an essay.

Her math, English, and science teachers, volleyball coach, and guidance counselor provided references.

“I think it’s a great opportunity,” Sarah said. “It will be new and scary but will be really great once I get into it.”

At Peabody-Burns, she is involved in many extra-curricular activities including sports, band, and scholars’ bowl.

Her father, Tom Spencer, said academics have always come easy for her.

“She breezes through everything,” he said.

She said she has a grade-point average of 3.8.

By completing her high school education with college courses at FHSU, Spencer will graduate from high school with 60 hours of college credit.

Now in its 10th year, the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math-based program accepts 40 new students A year, including international recruits.

According to marketing and recruitment coordinator Abby Anderson, most students come from bigger cities in Kansas, so tapping students from rural areas is special. David Francis of Marion is a senior in the program.

The state of Kansas will pay Sarah’s tuition, fees, and books, but not room and board.

Sarah’s mother, Tina Spencer, said Sarah couldn’t compete in sports at FHSU, but could participate in band and various science clubs.

Both parents are somewhat apprehensive about their daughter’s new adventure but are supportive.

“I am proud of Sarah,” Tom Spencer said. ”It makes me nervous because she is leaving for school before she’s 16.”

He said she would turn 16 a month after school starts in August.

“I’ve moved past fear to excitement,” Tina Spencer said.

Sarah will graduate from Peabody-Burns with the class of 2021 and can go on to attend the college of her choice.

“My goal is pretty big and maybe I won’t get it, but I want to be an astronaut,” she said.

She has two younger brothers — Lukas, 14, an eighth-grader, and Christopher, 12, a sixth grader.

Last modified April 17, 2019