New Orleans Mensa

La Plume de NOM for September/October 2006

The Magazine of New Orleans Mensa Information and Entertainment


by Anne Osteen Stringer

At this time last year La Plume de NOM, September/October 2005 had been sent to the printer. The issue was filled mostly with reports of our successful AG that had taken place in July. The cover was a picture of a Mardi Gras Indian who had entertained at the AG. That issue, like so much else, was lost in the wind and water of Katrina. Gone forever. It’s eerie that as I write this, there is another hurricane out there churning toward the gulf–but that’s been true many Augusts. This issue will be printed! I’m thankful that we have survived the year and that so many of our members and friends have returned and seemed determined that NOM will survive and thrive.

This issue contains a tribute to a NOM of many talents, a key to understanding the ABC’s of giftedness, and a report from our faithful and diligent treasurer, who somehow continues to make sure our bills are paid.

H’s picture on the cover, Post Katrina Abstraction with Yellow Ladder, is a scene that I’m sure will be familiar to many NOMs.


by Kathe Oliver

September brings the start of the academic year with its accompanying flurry of school paperwork. Gifted children's parents often receive letters filled with undefined acronyms. Here are basic definitions for the most common acronyms to have puzzled some Mensa parents in recent Septembers.

CAT: California Achievement Test, widely used in the United States

CTY: Center for Talented Youth. See JHU-CTY.

GCC, GCP: In Mensa, and in some school districts, the Gifted Children's Coordinator and Gifted Children's Program.

GT, G&T: Gifted and Talented. The definition of and qualifications for inclusion in this term vary widely from school district to school district.

HSA: Home and School Association, a parents' group in many schools (see PTA, PTO)

JHU-CTY: The Johns Hopkins University Center for Talented Youth (5801 Smith Ave., #400 McAuley Hall, Baltimore, MD 21209, 410-735-4100, provides a variety of services for children in grades 2-10. It is best known for the CTY Talent Search.

LD: Learning disability, learning disabled

NAGC: The National Association for Gifted Children (1707 L Street, NW, Suite 550,Washington, DC 20036, 202-785-4268) is the largest support and advocacy organization for gifted children in the United States. Their publications and website are important resources for people who work and live with gifted children.

PTA, PTO: Parent Teacher Association, Parent School Organization, parents' groups in many schools (see HSA)

SENG: Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted (P.O. Box 6074, Scottsdale, AZ 85261, 773-857-6250,, unlike other educational organizations for the gifted, deals with the emotional and social needs. It supports research and offers education in the psychology of giftedness to gifted people and the professionals who work with them. Anyone interested in giftedness can benefit from its resources.

SENG's "Online Conferences" offer a way to interact with experts on giftedness. Past speakers have included Dr. Robin Schader (the Parent Resource Specialist for the NAGC) and American Mensa's Gifted Children's Program Coordinator (GCPC), Dr. Deborah L. Ruf.

SIG: In Mensa and many other organizations, this acronym refers to a "Special Interest Group", such as Mensa's Homeschooling SIG ( In other contexts SIG is usually an acronym for Summer Institute for the Gifted (River Plaza, 9 West Broad Street, Stamford, CT 06902-3788, 866-303-4744,, which offers summer camps for gifted children and workshops for their parents and teachers.

TAG, TAGP: Talented and Gifted, Talented and Gifted Program

2-E: Twice Exceptional, someone who is both GT and LD


by Anne Osteen Stringer

Sam Alfano of Franklinton won first and third place in American Mensa’s photography competition. The theme of the contest was “Celebrations” and Sam sent in some pictures that he had snapped at Mardi Gras. He swept the contest with two pictures of Carnival revelers shown on the following page. Sam professed to be surprised by the award. None of us who know Sam were surprised. Sam is a multi-talented individual. His first love is engraving, primarily on custom knives, guns, and jewelry. His designs are intricate and beautiful. He has studied engraving in Italy and has taught his techniques in Germany, Belgium, France, Hong Kong, Switzerland, Italy, China, Japan, and the United States. His work is prized by collectors all over the world.

In addition to being a prize winning photographer, Sam is a talented graphic artist and his work has appeared on the cover of the National Mensa Bulletin. If all this weren’t enough, he is a musician and is particularly interested in local folk music. He played banjo with the Piney Woods Opry and the Abita Springs Opry. Sam lives in Franklinton with his wife Abigail, also a talented musician. You can see examples of his work at his web site

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