Article By Silas Marion
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Every year, teachers of all different categories will nominate students to apply for the North Carolina Governor’s School. This program caters to all academic areas, as well as the arts. The program is a 4-5 week, publicly funded, residential program for gifted students all across the state. The school was founded in 1963 by Terry Sanford who was the governor at the time.
Governor’s School nominations take place in late September into October. If the students decide to apply, they must first go through the local level. This requires them to submit a general essay about various different topics and to list their involvements/awards for the past three years. They are also required to write about personal readiness and how they feel like they would fit on a Governor’s School campus. In addition to the students’ application, they will need to choose two teachers to fill out recommendation forms. In Davie County, our local level accepts around 5 of the academic students (arts students may vary) to move on to state level. The state level requires the students to submit an application that specifies their respective area of application. The areas of application include: English, Math, Spanish, Natural Science, Social Science, Choral Music, Instrumental Music, Dance, Theater, and Visual Arts. If the students are applying under any of the academic areas, they must write an essay from a prompt that is specific to their discipline. If the student is applying under any of the arts. They must submit a solo recording/audition that caters to their specific art.
Within Governor’s School, there are two different campuses; Governor’s School East and Governor’s School West. Governor’s School East is held at Meredith college in Raleigh, and Governor’s School West is located at Winston Salem University. There is no distinct difference between the two campuses. Emily Satterfeild, the Assistant Coordinator for Governor’s School at the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, says “Some instructors may choose to set up their courses differently to focus on their specific expertise within their content area or in response to students’ interests, but the principles of the program are consistent across campuses.” With this being said, the only differences between the campuses are the location and the respective amenities.
What goes on at Governor’s School? You may ask. Emily Satterfield explained that every day at Governor’s School is different and packed with many different activities and events. She says, “Students attend their Area I classes (the subject area they applied to study) twice each day, and their interdisciplinary classes (on critical thinking and philosophy or self and society) every other day.” As well as the classes throughout the day, students can do many other activities in the afternoons and evenings. The activities include attending elective seminars and presentations, visiting the fitness center, participating in various recreational activities, and attending nightly campus-wide activities like karaoke night or scavenger hunts. During the evenings there also may be a speaker, performance, or concert on campus.
Governor’s School is not your generic school. There are no grades, tests, and class rank. Throughout the weeks a student spends at Governor’s School they will encounter different viewpoints and ideas, as well as new conversations with their peers. They will learn new ways of engagement and will experience new cultures and perspectives. At Governor’s School, students will meet and interact with other students from all over the state who have different perspectives, backgrounds and experiences.
Avery Yount, an attendee of Governor’s School 2022 for Mathematics says, “In all areas, it challenges you to think for yourself and see everything from different angles. For mathematics specifically, it gave reasoning to why we solve certain problems in a classroom setting. It helps you see a point to why you are doing what you are doing. Socially, you are surrounded by people who are both similar and different in so many unique ways.” Governor’s School is a great way to learn more about yourself and the others around you.
Hazel Marion, an attendee of Governor’s School 2021 for Instrumental Music says, “Governor’s School allowed me to study not only new musical ideas, but also new philosophical and sociological concepts that I could apply to my daily life. I was immersed in a phenomenal group of excellent students and taught by fabulous instructors. I still have strong connections with Governor’s School friends even a year after the program’s conclusion.” Clearly Governor’s School changes the way the students see different aspects of different things.
The impact of Governor’s School is definitely a lasting one. Students are affected both personally and intellectually by the residential and academic aspects of the school. Students will learn to live independently, manage their time, and take responsibility for themselves due to the residential aspect. And students will learn to work together, corporate, and collaborate within groups. They will also learn to brainstorm, ask questions and think critically and creatively. Governor’s School is a unique and vibrant place for students to grow both socially and academically. Students will have a roommate and make many new friendships that will carry on after the summer ends. Avery Yount says, “The one thing I would take away from Governor’s School is the people that I met and formed friendships with. I met people who are now considered my best friends. Even though we live all across the state, we are always trying to travel and see each other. It is also the fact that these friendships weren’t specifically math-focused or people in my dorm hall, but I had friends in almost every single academic and arts area in my friend group. That concept of “found family” is what my friend group became.” In the classroom, students will have opportunities to share their ideas and think freely. They will have discussions that will continue out of the classroom and into the dorms and cafeteria. Governor’s School is truly a great place to learn and grow as a person both socially and academically.
With that being said, good luck to all of our nominees for Governor’s School 2023!