To be selected to attend a Virginia Summer Governor’s School is an honor for any student.
This year, four of Godwin’s students earned the opportunity to attend the Governor’s School program this summer. Seniors Ava MacBlane, Zoe Tuck, and Cecilia Taylor, as well as junior Mason Jett, were each selected to participate.
The Governor’s School program lasted one month and students involved went to four classes from 9-5 with an hour long lunch break Monday through Friday. On the weekends they took field trips to various locations, such as the trampoline park, the movies, and the Farmers’ Market.
During the student’s free time they could attend workshops to help them gain a deeper understanding for the specialty they were attending the Governor’s School for. Their studies ranged from the humanities to the arts.
The application process for each Governor’s School is both rigorous and highly selective. Each applicant must be reviewed by the school, then the county, and finally, at the state level, before being accepted.
Taylor studied in the visual arts field along with other students selected for the program.
MacBlane applied for her spot in the Humanities program through a general application along with an essay.
While MacBlane was there, she studied environmental issues. Through learning about the various arguments presented with these issues, MacBlane was presented with the opportunity to further her understanding on the political engagement of teenagers in today’s world in regard to these issues.
She was given numerous opportunities to form connections with professors and other students and has now formed lasting friendships. MacBlane is also able to receive recommendations from these professors in the program to give her an added advantage for her college applications.
“I met a lot of new friends that I still keep in touch with, and I’m really glad I had the opportunity to meet those people,” said MacBlane.
As much as she enjoyed the program, MacBlane struggled when she first got there because she missed her family.
“At first, it was hard being away from home and adjusting to living in a dorm. The food was also pretty rough, but after the first week I was hard to everything,” said MacBlane.
When she made friends, her time away from home became easier. MacBlane roomed with a vocal student and was friends with students from every specialty, further enabling her to get out of her comfort zone and widen her horizons.
While some students may have hesitated to participate due to the fact that the program would take up a large portion of their summer, MacBlane did not hesitate or regret her decision to apply and attend.
The classes she participated in were primarily student-led, even though there was a traditional teacher. This allowed the students get further involved and led MacBlane to become increasingly interested and more aware of the issues happening in the country today.
Tuck was encouraged by her German teacher, Kristen Mack- lin, to apply for the opportunity since she excelled in German class and showed a deep understanding for the language.
Tuck did not attend Radford with the others since the Governor’s Program for German was held at Washington and Lee University.
Tuck had to go through a similar application process as MacBlane, but since it was for a language, she had to submit a German reading, writing, listening, and speaking test along with an essay on how she could benefit from the Governor’s Academy.
She was required to speak solely in German for three weeks while at Washington and Lee. The program was meant to better the students’ German through complete immersion in the language.
Along with her immersion in the language, she attended classes every weekday. Kunst und Philosophie was her art and philosophy class, Krimi was her crime novel class, and Russisch was her Russian class. She also had electives called AG’s and project time for her classes.
She bonded with other students and formed relationships despite the roadblock of solely speaking a foreign language.
“Since we were all on different levels of German, it was easy to learn more through conversation with the other students there, as I could help them and they could help me,” said Tuck.
However, there were more difficulties beyond that of just the language barrier. Tuck found it difficult to explain certain topics as well as going without a phone or any English literature or writing for the entirety of the program.
“Not being able to speak English was pretty difficult. When I didn’t know a word in German, I had to try my best to describe the word or use charades to help the other person understand. Also, going without my phone for three weeks was tough,” said Tuck.
Despite the challenges of the program, it helped Tuck come to the decision that she wants to major in Modern Foreign Languages and Translations in college.
Jett, like MacBlane, applied for the Governor’s Program at Radford, but since he applied for Theatre, he had to audition for his spot. He was also encouraged to submit an application by the school.
Jett submitted an application in December and then later had to audition in Norfolk. The scores from the application and audition were then combined to get the 40 highest scores in the state to come for the program.
Jett’s course load was exclusively theatre-based, allowing him to learn about theatre from all across the world in his various classes. After his classes finished, he had to go to rehearsal at night, which was different from the students in other programs. He was also not in a traditional classroom atmosphere, but on a stage performing and in theatres learning instead.
Jett gained many advantages through this program.
“Colleges love to see that their applicants have attended a Governor’s School program, so it definitely opens up doors in that region. Also, the teachers were all very high up in the theatre world if I ever need connections there,” said Jett.
His main takeaway was more about college life than theatre.
“It has changed my view on how college life really is. There is a lot more freedom, which comes with a lot more responsibility and independence,” said Jett.
Jett is glad he took this opportunity since he met new friends and got to spend time with them. Due to the fact that they were not just limited to spending time on campus, they took field trips around the area, so he did not miss out on the usual summer activities.
The program also changed Jett’s viewpoint on theatre.
“It surprisingly made me realize that I may not want to pursue theatre. The aggressive class load of pure theatre made me realize that it may not be the life for me,” said Jett.
Through their involvement in the Governor’s School Summer Program these students were able to deepen their knowledge in their chosen field, make valuable connections and lasting friendships, and become more knowledgeable on college life as well as on what they see their future career’s being.