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Most kids attending any kind of summer school are there because they have to be there. But those enrolled in the Granite School District's "Beyond the Basics" program are there because they want to be.

"It's not really school - it's fun," Adam Mangone said. "You learn but in a fun way.""It's most exciting and interesting, and I've made an extremely lot of new friends," Robert Bott added.

"Beyond the Basics" is a program for highly able learners, director Ellen Newton said. That means the students scored in the top 15 percent of the Stanford Achievement Test. Children from grades two through eight are invited to attend the variety of classes offered, from "Space: Fact and Fantasy" to "Murder! Mayhem! Mystery!" for a $90 fee.

Chelsea Brubaker, who will enter the fifth grade when school resumes, chose a class on "Discovering the Artist Within." She said, "I've always thought I was good at art, but my brother is always saying, `I'm a better artist than you,' so I needed to be better."

Children who attend the 14-day program are involved in a lot of hands-on type of activities. Newton said the teachers emphasize developing creative-thinking skills, evaluating and analyzing information and applying knowledge to solve everyday problems.

The fun comes into play with all the creative activities the children do each day. Sometimes it's a field trip to the Hansen Planetarium or an imaginary trip to another planet.

Spencer Wooley, a creative and outspoken second-grader, said he found the trip to the planetarium really interesting until his teacher, Leslie Montague, went into the gyro rings. "I fainted. It was so unbearable. I didn't want to see my teacher be in that thing."

A real eye-opening field trip was undertaken by the mystery-solving class. Kristana Dahl, who is entering the eighth grade, summed up the feelings of fellow students after a trip to the detention center: "It was spooky; I wouldn't want to go back there if I had my choice."

The program also benefits teachers. Teacher leaders registered for six credits in gifted education and also chose the class they were most interested in assisting.

Newton said mentor teachers direct the teacher leaders in their lesson presentations and in their written three-week curriculum units. Mentor teachers are carefully chosen for their experience and enthusiasm for teaching gifted children, she said.

"One of our main purposes is the 76 teachers who go back in the school program and use these skills in their own schools," Newton said.

The children displayed their special projects at an open house on Friday, the last day of class.