Editor’s Note: North Carolina’s Governor’s School is a unique program designed specifically for the special needs of gifted and talented students. Being invited to Governor’s School is an honor bestowed on only a small number of North Carolina’s high school students each year.
This past summer I had the honor of spending five and a half weeks at the Governor’s School East of North Carolina. Since 1963, select rising seniors and a few rising juniors have attended either the East campus at Meredith College or the West at Salem College each year, and I was lucky to be the first Hawbridge student to attend.
As candidates for Governor’s School are nominated in an “Area I” category in the arts and sciences, I attended with dance as my main discipline. Additionally, I took Area II and III classes. In Area II we studied philosophy, with classes that explored many different topics from the existential question “Do we even exist?” to the social observations in Lady Gaga’s “Telephone” music video. In Area III we discussed ethics and morality, as well as the importance of accepting one’s thoughts and emotions as we were introduced to many new and challenging ideas at Governor’s School. Remarkably, I had Hawbridge’s very own Mr. Ferris as my Area III instructor.
Besides the Area classes, there were educational and recreational activities which enriched already wonderful days. Enlightening electives and events were offered every day in various disciplines after our Area classes: open mic nights, poetry readings, knitting, jazz dance classes, math knowledge quizzes, social science challenges, and so much more. Additionally, I attended weekly Saturday night dances. I was impressed and inspired by Area I concerts and presentations. Spontaneous jam sessions and games of pick-up frisbee on the quad contributed to the pre-college atmosphere of Governor’s School. In the nightly convocations, we watched films to discuss in our Area II and III classes, and listened to notable speakers ranging from Burlington mayor Ian Baltutis to accomplished photojournalist Natalie Keyssar. All of these activities influenced our discussions both in and outside of the classroom by challenging us to think about the human experience in new ways. We recognized the successes and failures of society, and the beauty of new, close friendships.
As first said by our site director Laura Sam, “Every day is the happiest day at Governor’s School East.” I loved every minute of my time at Governor’s School and will cherish those memories forever. Every person on that campus wanted to be there, wanted to learn, and came with an open mind. Without the pressure of grades, we were free to learn and socialize over what we wanted to, which was a beautiful thing to witness. Three hundred and thirty-six students from every part of North Carolina and from all walks of life bonded over one shared, incredibly unique experience. I am very grateful and humbled to have been able to go. I now feel more self-aware. I feel inspired artistically and more confident in my dancing. I feel more compelled to stand up for what I believe in.