Camden Hills Regional High School

Home of the Windjammers



The Horizons Program is a series of special offerings for gifted, talented, highly creative, and high achieving students. It includes special courses and other individualized learning opportunities. To be eligible for Horizons courses, a student must apply, and a committee of teachers, guidance counselors, and administrators will admit students to the program based on the evidence submitted. Students may submit their materials for consideration at any point in the year, but the committee only meets at established times-- thus, if a student applies for the program, the application materials will remain "on file" with the Horizons Program Coordinator until the next time the identification committee meets. 


Students who are highly gifted, intellectually advanced, highly creative, and/or high-achieving should consider applying for the Horizons Program, especially if they thrive on project-based learning that involves investigation, designing unique products, and solving real-world problems. Students who are artistically gifted or talented should also consider applying for the Horizons Arts Program (scroll to the bottom for link), which has an altogether different set of offerings in the Arts.


STEP 1] REFERRAL FORMS-- To begin the application process, referrals are needed from at least TWO sources: a teacher, a parent, or the student (a self-referral). It is certainly acceptable, and perhaps even desirable, to submit referral forms of all three types-- and perhaps more than one teacher referral, from different teachers-- but this is not required. All of these referral forms are electronic, and the links are below. When submitted, they are shared directly with the Horizons Program Coordinator, who then shares them with the identification committee at the appropriate time. 

Horizons Program (Academic)-- Teacher Referral

Horizons Program (Academic)-- Parent Referral

Horizons Program (Academic)-- Student Self-Referral

These forms are all designed to provide a sense of the student's learning style-- they are NOT indicators of intelligence or ability. The information they provide will be used by the identification committee to gain a sense of the whole child.

STEP 2] GRADES AND TEST SCORES-- Once these referrals (again, at least two of the three types) have been submitted, the following materials should be emailed in .pdf form to Mr. Tom Gray,, (the Horizons Program Coordinator), to be included in the student's application packet:

* The child's most recent report card, or an up-to-date transcript;

* Reports of recent, available standardized test scores (NWEA, PSAT, SBAC, MEA, etc.);

* OPTIONAL-- Up to 3 samples of student work, accompanied with written explanation if necessary, that are indicative of the student's ability and learning style. These may be writing samples, projects that the student has made (either for school or perhaps for a special exhibit, such as a Maker's Fair or 4-H project), or other meaningful products. If the project involved a demonstration or a physical product that cannot be submitted, photos, video, and/or a written description may be shared. Whatever the format, the evidence of the student work must be shared electronically with the Horizons Program Coordinator.

The Horizons Program Coordinator will keep these on file and share them with the identification committee at the appropriate time. All materials will be kept confidential. If grades and/or standardized test scores are not available (for example, if a student has been homeschooled or has recently moved), please contact the Horizons Program Coordinator ( with a written explanation.

STEP 3] THE CREATIVITY ASSESSMENT-- All students applying for the Horizons Program in Academics will be assessed using the Torrance Test of Creative Thinking. This assessment has been demonstrated to be a reliable indicator of cognitive fluency, mental flexibility, and capacity for divergent thinking. This assessment will be administered for rising ninth-graders at area middle schools during the spring of their 8th grade year, and can also be administered by special arrangement with the Horizons Program Coordinator ( Any current CHRHS student who has not yet been identified for Horizons may also contact the Horizons Program Coordinator to take this assessment at an arranged time.

The Torrance Test of Creative Thinking was developed by E. Paul Torrance, one of the pioneers of creativity assessment. In his work, Torrance stressed that creativity and intelligence are different, and that because of this, it is important that we consider creativity separately when assessing Gifted and Talented children-- it does not necessarily show up in intelligence tests or in a student's grades. The Torrance Test of Creative Thinking takes about an hour to complete, and it is not like a typical standardized test. Instead, students look at pictures, and then respond in writing --usually in bullet form-- to prompts that pertain to the pictures. For example, if presented a with a picture that presents a highly unlikely or even absurd situation, students are asked to generate "what if" ideas. Some items ask students to predict all the possible things that could have come just before the scene in the picture, or all possible consequences that might occur immediately after the scene in the picture. It is designed specifically to measure the following attributes of creativity: Fluency (the number of responses generated); Flexibility (different categories of responses); Originality (unlikely or unusual, but well-reasoned responses); and Elaboration (the detail of the responses). 



Once all materials have been submitted as explained in the steps above, they will be reviewed holistically by the identification committee, which will select students to participate in the program. Students who have been selected for Horizons, including those who have been identified as Gifted/Talented, will be notified by mail, together with their parents. 



Any CHRHS student may apply for an independent study opportunity in an area of interest. During the add/drop periods, students may link directly to the Independent/Directed Study application from this website.

Independent/Directed Study Application Link

At other times during the school year, Independent/Directed Study applications are only available to students under special circumstances. Any student who has a compelling reason to arrange an Independent or Directed Study at a time OTHER than a typical add/drop period should have his or her Guidance Counselor contact Mr. Tom Gray, Horizons Program Coordinator, to make the necessary arrangements. Typically, this type of exception will only be made when a student is at risk of failure to graduate on time without a special arrangement.


The Horizons Gifted and Talented Programs in Academics and the Arts at CHRHS anchor the Five Town CSD’s educational opportunities for identified G/T  students. The State-approved programs serve students with both demonstrated and potential exceptional abilities in intellectual, academic, and artistic areas in the visual and performing arts. The Horizons Program at CHRHS includes an array of academic opportunities: unique coursework at the high school and college levels, specially designed independent studies (often with community mentors), advanced language tutorials, Syracuse University Project ADVANCE concurrent enrollment courses, U-Maine System college courses, and other learning experiences appropriate for gifted, talented, highly creative, and high-achieving adolescents.

The regularly scheduled Horizons courses at CHRHS offer challenging, fast-paced, integrative, and conceptually complex curricula. The central focus of these courses is the development of creativity through project-based learning, emphasizing investigation and innovation. As Gary Davis so aptly observes, "Civilization is a history of creative ideas that have been modified, combined, transformed, borrowed, and built upon each other into ever new creations.... Civilization will continue to have problems and aesthetic needs, and creative people will continue to provide solutions and aesthetic experiences." Thus, creativity is the guiding idea behind all Horizons courses.


It is the Mission of Camden Hills Regional High School to be a community of learners that supports students in developing the knowledge and the academic, social, and civic skills that are necessary for excellence in post-secondary education and adult life in an ever-changing world.

The broad vision for the Horizons Gifted and Talented Programs in academics and the arts at Camden Hills Regional High School embraces the MISSION by focusing on four core aims  that serve as the foundation for each Program component. The Horizons Programs serve to promote outstanding abilities for identified students through:


  • Achieving in-depth understanding that applies essential learned concepts between disciplines
  • Encouraging perceptions that can integrate essential relationships
  • Drawing in-depth inferences that illuminate complex ideas
  • Transforming, re-organizing and synthesizing concepts into new relationships in academics and the arts that can build broader
    knowledge for future use

The Educational Plan adopted by the Five Town CSD in 2003 (that seeks to guide teaching and learning until 2016) emphasizes five Objectives that broadly under gird all program areas and activities at the high school. The five seem particularly integral to the continuing vision of the Horizons G/T programming as well. The adopted key Objectives direct the District and the High School to:

  • Enhance Learning Opportunities by emphasizing applied knowledge and skills, expanding high quality academic programs, addressing the diverse needs of all learners, and implementing a broad student assessment plan.
  • Support Staff Learning and Well-Being by fostering collaborative staff development, hiring and keeping outstanding educators, and encouraging ongoing learning and professional development.
  • Foster and Support Student Aspirations by inspiring all students to develop, plan for, and realize appropriate career goals.
  • Promote Student Well-Being by creating an environment that is conducive to student well-being by seeking effective means to support unique socio-emotional needs and providing opportunities that stretches adjustment and development.
  • Empower Students by increasing their involvement in all levels of organization and governance, and by supporting their efforts to advocate for their own learning within and beyond the regular curriculum.

Educational opportunities within the Horizons programs have been developed with an underlying rationale about the nature and needs of academically and artistically talented high school students who are journeying to post-secondary opportunities and adult careers.



 Horizons Arts


Honors Horizons Anthropology Honors Horizons Humanities I: ISLANDS
Honors Horizons Humanities II: CITIES Honors Horizons Research Seminar