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Members of GBHS class of 1961 sought
50-year follow-up to Project Talent study underway
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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Fifty-one years after being selected to take part in the Project Talent study of American high school students, the class of 1961 from Great Bend High School is being asked to participate once again.
In 1960, 400,000 ninth through 12th grade students took part in Project Talent, a study of the aptitudes and abilities, hopes and expectations of high school students from across America. The study was conducted by the American Institutes for Research (AIR) and the United States Office of Education.
The testing involved graduating classes from 1960-63 and this year, AIR is focusing on the class of 1961. So, the original Project Talent participants, including Great Bend High School’s class of that year, are being asked to tell their stories in a follow-up study being planned by AIR.
“The Project Talent generation is very important in the history of the country,” said Sabine Horner, Project Talent’s director of outreach and communications. “They came of age during an era of great upheaval and they transformed the United States as we knew it. Project Talent is an opportunity to share their perspectives and experiences in a meaningful way that can benefit future generations.”
However, “there were 1,300 schools participating,” Horner said. In the past 50 years, many of the schools (some from small communities) closed, consolidated or were integrated, making it difficult to track down the students.
Although GBHS continues to thrive, Horner said it is one of the schools giving Project Talent difficulty.
Large studies that follow people from adolescence to retirement are both rare and extremely valuable. They allow researchers to make connections between early life experiences and later life outcomes, Horner said.
Partial follow-up studies were done one, five and 11 years after graduation, Horner said. But, these were not all-inclusive. “We want this study to be as representative as possible.”
New information gained from a 50-year follow-up study can help researchers and policy makers understand how family and educational background impact the life course, up to and including the retirement process. Researchers can also learn why certain people stay healthier and happier and are more able to enjoy their later life.
Members of the class of 1961 from GBHS are being asked to contact AIR to register their interest and provide details of where they can be contacted to receive further information. Project Talent is also interested in information about upcoming 50th reunions for the class of 1961.
One can call the project at 866-770-6077 or send an e-mail to For more information, visit the Project Talent website at