COLUMBIA — Laughter and conversation filled Rock Bridge High School, Room 239. It was 9:30 a.m., a fall Friday in 2007, and the sophomores, all designated as gifted, awaited their teacher and supervisor, Marilyn Toalson. One kid tapped his fingers while others took turns throwing a Frisbee. Book bags and hoodies rested on the floor, and students kept wandering in until close to 15 sat around chatting.
Looking beyond the median
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