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Dreamfest students working on project

March 3, 2022 - Though Northern Kentucky University’s students may not have classes on Tuesday, March 8, due to Spring Break, the Highland Heights campus will still be bustling with student activity as nearly 600 of the region’s brightest middle-school students will participate in DreamFest, an annual day of learning and enrichment.

This year’s event marks the 35th installment of DreamFest, which NKU will again host for students from 13 local public school districts in five northern Kentucky counties. The event is organized by the Northern Kentucky Association of Gifted Educators (NKAGE) in conjunction with the NKU’s Institute for Talent Development and Gifted Studies. 

“Since its inception, DreamFest has been providing the opportunity for gifted students from our region to interact with high-potential peers while engaging in enriching activities and thought-provoking dialogue,” Heather Hicks, president of NKAGE and Gifted and Talented Coordinator with Boone County Schools, said. “This is an event that our students look forward to each year and very much appreciate the professionals who present their expertise.” 

DreamFest’s main stage presentation will feature Colin Seale, founder and CEO of thinkLaw. Seale was born and raised in Brooklyn, N.Y., where struggles in his upbringing created his passion for educational equity. He serves as a fervent critical thinking advocate and uses lessons from his experiences as a math teacher, attorney, and keynote speaker to encourage students to engage critical thinking skills and think like a lawyer. Colin founded thinkLaw, a multi-award-winning organization to help educators leverage inquiry-based instructional strategies to close the critical thinking gap and ensure they teach and REACH all students, regardless of race, zip code or what side of the poverty line they are born into. 

Students will also participate in interactive, minds-on breakout workshops exploring critical and creative thinking ranging in content from language arts and mathematics, to performing arts and leadership. Between 9:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., 23 unique breakout workshops will be offered. Local professionals and teachers volunteer their time to lead the breakout sessions. 

DreamFest began in the mid-1980s with a focus on the performing arts. The event has taken many forms through the years, but has always called NKU home. Dr. Kimberly Code, both the director of the Institute for Talent Development and a professor in the NKU College of Education, always looks forward to this event.

 “We are excited to host DreamFest on NKU’s campus again this year and look forward to welcoming these students,” Dr. Kimberly Code said. “DreamFest is always an incredible learning and exploration opportunity for the students who attend and an important time for us to showcase the great facilities, programs and people at NKU.” 

Dr. Jim Allen, chairman of the Department of Educational Leadership and Advanced Studies, also recognizes the importance of continuing to host this event at NKU. 

“DreamFest is the premier event for the gifted and talented community in the northern Kentucky region,” Dr. Allen said. “With innovative sessions in art and music, literacy and social studies, STEM, creativity and leadership, the conference will tap into students’ myriad interests, and will enable them to explore other passions and possibilities. For those involved in Gifted and Talented programs, this is a must-attend event! We at Northern Kentucky University are honored to host this conference each year.”

To learn more about the Institute for Talent Development & Gifted Studies, click HERE.

About NKU: Founded in 1968, NKU is an entrepreneurial state university of over 16,000 students served by more than 2,000 faculty and staff on a thriving suburban campus nestled between Highland Heights, Kentucky and bustling downtown Cincinnati. We are a regionally engaged university committed to empowering our students to have fulfilling careers and meaningful lives. While we are one of the fastest-growing universities in Kentucky, our professors still know our students' names. For more information, visit