March Game Night

On Friday, March 15th, twenty-five youth and parents gathered at Todd Academy for our increasingly popular Game Night.  In contrast to our fast-paced events, Game Night is a casual hang out time for both youth and parents to socialize with intellectual peers, form friendships, and have an evening of fun.  Thanks to everyone who came for making this event a success!

I would like to especially thank Jessie Ramirez for suggesting the idea of having a game night.  Jessie saw the need for the bright youth to have a casual hang out time on a regular basis, so her idea has become a reality.  Looking over the programs we’ve offered in the past few years, a vast majority of them started from ideas from parents, youth, and Mensa members.  The success of our program is a credit to the strong community we have.  Thank you!

You can view this and our other photo albums here: or by going to and clicking Programs -> Photos and Video

New Web Site Launch

Nearly three and a half years ago we launched our Indy Mensa Family Program.  At the time, we were expecting to grow to about a dozen kids in five years.  Being a rural state, that seemed reasonable.  The demand for a special place for intellectual peers to get together to socialize and enjoy unique programs designed specifically for bright kids along with opportunities for parents to have group discussions with professionals specializing in gifted kids was exponentially higher than we ever expected!  The number of card-holding Young Mensans in Central Indiana has grown by a thousand percent in these past three and a half years, and literally hundreds of youth and parents have found support, encouragement, and a place to finally feel normal.  We are a diverse group, but we have so much in common.  One of the biggest joys of my life has been to see our Indy Mensa Family Program develop and mature into a sustainable program that not only brings the benefits of Mensa to young people, but allows us to dream big and see those dreams become a reality.

When we first started, I put together a web site designed for a small program in rural Indiana.  It didn’t take long to realize that the web site wouldn’t be able to keep up with our growth.  Two years in the planning, we’ve put together everything we’ve learned to make a functional web site to meet the needs of our current program.  We hope the new site will improve the effectiveness of our communication with you as well as help new people better understand what we do.

We have the old site archived here.

Here are a few highlights of the new web site:

Programs:  The tool we use to bring everyone together is our high quality programs developed specifically for bright kids.  Teachers trained in gifted education review every program in great detail before we decide to run it.  Because we have so many programs, a lot of the work that went into the new web site was to organize all of the information clearly and efficiently.  We found an excellent calendar plugin that does most of the work for us.  There is an “Upcoming Events” widget on the right column of every page so you can see what we have coming up.  One really cool feature is that you can automatically add our events as we post them to your digital calendar.  It works for Outlook, iCal (for Mac), and Google Calendar.  Even if you don’t come to every event, at least you’ll see it on your calendar as a reminder.  “Featured Programs” is the first page you come to when you load the site.  It highlights several of our programs and showcases the various program series that we offer such as Smart Science, Leadership Development, Summer Blast, Arts & Expression, and more.  The Programs category also includes other stuff like photos & video, and general information that people need to know about our programs.

Blog:  This is a new feature of this web site.  Most of the information on the site is static, but the blog posts will allow you to read the latest happenings of our program.

About Us:  If you want to know who is who, this is where you want to go.  You can read the Letter from the Director, see some featured bright youth in our area, and learn about the people who volunteer to run our program.

Email Updates:  We’ve simplified the form to get our email updates.  If you’ve already registered on the old site and are getting email updates, we’re migrating everything to the new site, so you don’t have to re-register.  If you’re new, please sign up so we can send you the latest news.  You can easily unsubscribe at any time.

Resources:  Other than learning about our programs, this is probably the single most important feature of our site.  We’ve put together a list of everything we think you should know about raising and educating a gifted child.  We help you find a good school for your child, we help you get scholarship money, we help you find professionals that do IQ testing, counseling, and other services, and finally there are lots of articles to read so you can know what the latest research shows about raising gifted kids.

Contact:  Need to ask us a question or have suggestions?  This is the one-stop-shop to reach us.

Mensa:  So you’ve enjoyed our group and want more.  It’s time to join Mensa.  This section tells you why, how, and how to connect with our local chapter, Central Indiana Mensa.

Sitemap: Not everyone has a fancy browser, so this will make our site accessible for everyone.

Smart Art / Youth Committee Night

On Friday, February 15th, fifty-five people gathered at Todd Academy for our first-ever Smart Art event followed by our first-ever Youth Committee meeting.

Abby Wolf, the Todd Academy art teacher, created three fantastic Smart Art stations for students to explore.  Abby Wolf, Dolly Hayde, Jake Wolf, and David Bonner ran the stations.  Thank you all for giving up your evening to make this such a great evening!

Station 1: Matisse Monsters: Paper Collage – Using only construction paper, scissors, and glue, artists built monsters most terrifying (or perhaps just most colorful) from the ground up. In this project, problem solving and innovation was used to create art of monstrous design.

Station 2: Identity in Imagery: Oil Pastels and Watercolor – Combining the science of art-making with the expression of the self, students created paintings that showcase their own personality and identity. Using color, pattern, shape, scale, and their own name, this project gave artists an innovative opportunity to show the world their true colors.

Station 3: Creature Creation: Drawing and Modeling Clay – Creating new animals using real animals for inspiration, artists first designed, then built, their own creatures with clay. This project works with the creative process as well as the power of imagination to help artists work beyond the confines of reality to create new and exciting art.

Once the kids were settled in, Christine Turo-Shields, ACSW, LCSW led a discussion in another room with parents about raising bright kids.

Immediately after the Smart Art event, Sarah, Mensa member and President elect of the new Youth Committee, called the inaugural session of the student-only Youth Committee to order.  After an hour behind closed doors, the committee came out for pizza and to share their ideas with the adults.  They elected officers, discussed means of transportation for big trips, suggested new program ideas, and shared their desire for more social time with intellectual peers.  More details will be published later in their meeting minutes.

While the Youth Committee met, the adult staff had their own meeting.  David Bonner gave an overview of the new web site, and we voted in the new web site.  We established two new positions of Programs Chair (Ann Bilodeau) and Assistant Program Chair (Jessie Ramirez).  The responsibility of these positions is to ensure that all details are in order for our upcoming programs.  We also had a follow-up discussion about the Membership Agent (Devin Lee) and Assistant Membership Agent (Christine Turo-Shields, ACSW, LCSW) positions we created last spring to help families through the process of qualifying for and joining Mensa.  Nathan Perry and Tamera Perry were also part of the discussion.

Overall the evening was full of energy, excitement, and fun!  As people made their ways out the door, there were tears of joy for discovering true intellectual peers.