William Rothwell
GS West, 2003
I remember the day when I received my acceptance letter to the North Carolina Governor’s School West program; it was one of the happiest days of my young life. The summer before, I attended the North Carolina School of Science and Math’s Summer Ventures in Science and Math program. There, I had met and interacted with other bright young people who yearned to learn more about new ideas and new people. I remember my excitement, because I knew that my time at the North Carolina Governor’s School would be an even richer and more influential experience.Governor’s School changed my life in a myriad of intense and positive ways. For six weeks, I lived with other teenagers like me who came from all walks of life. All of us wanted to learn more about the world and people around them. The classes we took, the people I met, the philosophies we discussed, and the ideas we debated are things that I look back upon today with a most intense nostalgia. As a typical adolescent, emotionally and socially unsteady, I am hard pressed to remember a time when I felt as comfortable, as stimulated, and as accepted by my peers as I felt when I was at Governor’s School. It was at Governor’s School that my passion for science intensified exponentially, that my interest in writing and philosophy were piqued, and that my confidence in myself and my ability to interact with other intelligent people was solidified. It was at Governor’s School that I made connections with some of my best friends to date.

Were it not for the North Carolina Governor’s School, I would not have been exposed to the ideas and topics that have made me the scholar and citizen that I am today. It goes without saying that I am not the only alumnus of the North Carolina Governor’s School who has gained so much from the stimulation and exposure we received at this program, and I am certain that I have not even begun to contribute intellectually back to the world to the extent that other alumni have already done so in the years since the conception of the program in 1963.

As such, I urge the North Carolina legislature to restore full financial support to the North Carolina Governor’s School. This program provides many academically and artistically gifted young North Carolinians with the most positive, educational, and life-changing experience they will have during their adolescence. It is imperative that this program continue so that our beautiful state may keep producing leaders, scholars, and artists whose influence and guidance will benefit our towns, our counties, our state, our nation, and our world.

Steven Thomas In public schools today, much emphasis is placed on memorizing facts and learning how to prepare for exams. As a student, this emphasis on memorizing has, in many ways, hindered my education. With the many challenges that North Carolina, the US, and the world face, we cannot afford teach our students to memorize facts, we need to emphasize the necessity of being able to critically analyze problems and think of creative solutions to them.As a high school senior who has never attended school outside of NC, the only time in my education when I have been challenged intellectually in this way was at Governor’s School. In many ways, Governor’s School has exposed me to the real world, one in which asking questions and finding solutions to them matters. In comparison, most of what I was taught in public school was “memorize this fact just long enough to pass your exam, and if you can’t remember it, just guess”.

You may disagree that the state of education is not as I describe, but having spent the last thirteen years being reminded of it every single day by teachers, faculty, and students, I can guarantee that it is so. Governor’s School taught me what public school never did, how to THINK. Because of Governor’s School, I am an engaged citizen in my community who regularly volunteers to tutor students so that I may inspire them to think on the level that Governor’s School encourages. We need to preserve Governor’s School because it encourages our future leaders to solve problems in creative ways, which is something that our state, and country, need desperately right now. Things may be hard right now, but the thought of our state being led in the future by the students who are taught to memorize and make a good grades rather than learn and apply useful information legitimately terrifies me.

An investment in Governor’s School is an investment in a generation of capable minds who are well prepared for the challenges of the rapidly changing world we live in. You may think that North Carolina cannot afford to sponsor Governor’s School, but really it cannot afford to NOT sponsor Governor’s School. Please do not let this precious and necessary gem in our education system be buried over.

Sarah Giavedoni
Asheville, NC
GSE 2003
The future of our state will be based on innovations in industry, entrepreneurship, and scientific inquiry.With outsourcing and electronic shortcuts becoming increasingly more economical and convenient, tomorrow’s work staff will need to excel in certain ways that may have previously been overlooked. Leadership skills will continue to grow in importance, encompassing public speaking, creativity, and personnel management, as well as intelligence and business savvy.

Programs like Governor’s School break promising students out of the molds created within the public school system and finally allow them the opportunity to meet their potential. Finally, one’s career options include more than teacher, doctor, factory worker, office manager.

Governor’s School offered me time and opportunity to explore my interests, skills, and personal strengths. It introduced me to the idea that I could be a writer, nonprofit director, event planner, website developer, entrepreneur, and aspiring speaker.

Thanks to Governor’s School, I am today each of those things. My nonprofit has made a difference in providing access to books for people across 5 states, and only continues to grow. I write and edit for local magazines, several blogs, and nationally distributed textbooks. I am instrumental in planning regular community and holiday events. I am working on a book. I have started an online business. I have made public appearances in forums I would never have thought myself comfortable.

It’s a far cry from simple office position I found myself working toward before I was given the opportunity to attend Governor’s School.

Help your youth find their potential. Save Governor’s School for all future students.

Marty Smith Public high schools are necessary and can be great, but they don’t always encourage individuality or outside-the-box thinking, especially in the smaller towns of NC. My interests were so different from those of my classmates and family members that I mostly kept to myself at school; I wasn’t sure how to pursue my interest or even in what direction to begin. GSW not only introduced me to like-minded individuals, but some of the most fearless and talented people I’ve ever met, to this day. These wonderful teenagers and teachers were so tolerant of our individual similarites and differences; it was such a safe environment in which to hone a craft and know that there ARE others like me in the world. It gave me the courage to leap into new situations without fear, a quality I hold dear even now. My two best friends are people I met at GSW in 1987. They are now and ever my sounding boards, support system, and kindred spirits. They have given me 25 years of understanding where I found none before.My 1987 GSW classmates are business leaders, media moguls, actors, writers, musicians, business owners, volunteers in the communities in which they live, and parents of very progressive and talented children. Please, please – don’t deprive any future generations of this precious gift; I can’t imagine how life would have developed for me without having this life-changing experience.
Kellin McKinney, M.A., CCC-SLP
Bilingual Speech/Language Pathologist
I attended GSW in 2002. I still consider GS to be one of the most important experiences of my life–intellectually, spiritually, socially, and pragmatically. My Area I study was Spanish, and I currently serve as the only bilingual Speech-Language Pathologist for the Charleston County School District in South Carolina. I attended UNC-Chapel Hill (’07) and the University of Texas at Austin (’09), and my studies in Spanish and volunteer work in the Winston-Salem community with low-income children and families during Governor’s School laid the foundation for my professional career. In 2007, I received a grant from the Department of Education to study language development among children from impoverished backgrounds here in the U.S. I now work in a Title I public school and use the knowledge and training obtained through this grant daily to implement whole-classroom support strategies for literacy and literacy-readiness skills with students from diverse cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds. My use and study of the Spanish language in GS classrooms and on GS community volunteer trips were, literally, the beginning of a life-long career of transcending language and cultural barriers in order to improve the lives of my neighbors and the wellbeing of my community and country.I was born at a hospital in Forsyth County and was raised until adulthood in Stokes County. I then moved to Chapel Hill to attend college. I am the first and only member of my immediate family to graduate from a 4-year college/university. Though I do not currently reside in North Carolina, I have plans to move back. My immediate and extended family as well as the majority of my friends remain in North Carolina, primarily in Stokes, Alamance, Orange, and Durham counties. I am a frequent visitor to North Carolina and contributor to its economy. I love this state with a passion and feel I have a stake in its future, a responsibility for its successes or failures. Governor’s School strengthened the allegiance to and pride I feel for my home state and is one of the magnificent reasons why I will continue to provide my ardent support to its betterment and growth.
John Coffey
GSW 1971 – Art
(A letter originally sent to at state Senator.)This letter has taken months to write, not so much the words, as the will to put them on paper. You see, as a state employee (I am a curator and deputy director of the NC Museum of Art), I have generally avoided politics, especially state politics. My interests have been elsewhere, in the study of American art and in teaching students an appreciation and understanding of this nation’s cultural heritage. If I have a calling it is to pass on my passion for learning to succeeding generations.

I first heard the call in the summer of 1971 at the Governor’s School of North Carolina. I was a student at Needham Broughton High School in Raleigh. I had been nominated by my principal to the Governor’s School based on my talent as an artist. Looking back forty years with a curator’s eye I concede that I had a real talent. My paintings won awards. Most high schools have a kid who’s regarded as the unofficial “school artist.” I was Broughton’s school artist. However, at home and among my immediate circle of friends there was little encouragement to pursue my talent other than as a hobby. Because of my interest in history (and argumentative temperament) nearly everyone prophesied for me a brilliant career in the law. That was the direction of my mind when I was packed off to Winston-Salem and the Governor’s School.

It was during the weeks I spent at the Governor’s School in the summer between my junior and senior years that I had my Damascus Conversion to a larger world with a far wider horizon. I was away from family, friends, and the security of my everyday life. I found myself on a campus with several hundred adolescent kids from across the state. They were each gifted with intellectual or artistic talents that set them apart from their classmates back home, and sometimes isolated them from their families. Here I found a community different from the one I had left, one that respected my gifts and celebrated them. I found this new community both exhilarating and intimidating. I met kids—dozens of kids—who I suspected were smarter and more talented than me. This was new. Before I had been lionized as the brainy Picasso. But these new friends challenged me, perhaps even more than the teachers who treated me not as precocious wunderkind, but as younger companion sharing the same journey. I cannot adequately describe the experience of that summer. The child in me was set to work; the man in me was told to play. I never grew so much, so intensely as I did at the Governor’s School.

As an art student I spent half my waking time in the studio. I was given canvas and paints and unlimited time to experiment. My instructor did not conform to the stereotype of the high school art teacher, too ready to demonstrate how to paint a shadow on an apple. She was a professional artist and expected my fellow students and I to be professional. She was passionate, serious, and open to the world, and she expected the same from us. She engaged us in lengthy critiques of our work, the like of which I’d never experienced. I was expected to discuss my work articulately and justify my intentions for each painting. I had to respond thoughtfully to questions posed by my increasingly emboldened fellows. Under such close scrutiny what once satisfied me about my painting no longer stood the test. And here is perhaps the most enduring legacy of the Governor’s School to my professional life: those sometimes sharp, always intense discussions—about modern art, my art, my life, life in general—laid the foundation for a self-confident, self-reflective, self-critical adult, able to perceive a different path than the one planned for him. I learned respect for myself and a welcome humility. And I began to discipline my mind in preparation for the rigor of undergraduate and graduate study.

And after Governor’s School? I returned to Broughton for my final year, more the ‘school artist’ than ever before. I attended UNC-Chapel Hill where I double-majored in history and art history. My interest in my own painting faded as I became more engaged by the art of others, especially American painters of the 19th and early 20th century, the period when this country found its artistic identity. I pursued that interest in graduate school at Williams College in western Massachusetts and then worked for 10 years as a museum curator at Williams and Bowdoin College. In 1988 I was offered the opportunity to return to North Carolina as curator of American and modern art at the state’s art museum. I jumped at the chance to work in a larger, more public museum with a magnificent collection. Nothing has tempted me to leave. Here I can do the most good.

But this is letter is not about the North Carolina Museum of Art or about me. It is about the singular impact that a few brief summer weeks had on the trajectory of one man’s life. The Governor’s School was the singular awakening experience of my life. Without it, I very much doubt I would be where I am or who I am. (I’d probably be a lawyer, but neither a good nor happy lawyer.)

What motivates me to write is the recent decision by the General Assembly to eliminate state funding for the Governor’s Schools. I found that incomprehensible. Forgive me, but I cannot see the reason why anyone with an interest in fostering education, creativity, and the entrepreneurial spirit would slice so savagely at a program that has demonstrably contributed so much to the progress of this state. The alumni/ae of the Governor’s Schools now number tens of thousands and they are leaders in all areas of our society: science, medicine, business, the humanities, the visual and performing arts, museums, and government. And I wager that a majority of those alums will cite their experience at the Governor’s School as formative to their careers. I cannot believe the state would let this magnificent program—the model for similar programs throughout the country—to end. The savings in dollars is paltry. The waste in the unmet potential of our most gifted and talented young people is incalculable.

I urge you – with respect – to please reconsider the decision to defund the Governor’s Schools. I urge you to restore the State funding that will enable these schools to inspire the next generation of North Carolinians.

Daniel Dickerson, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Science Education
STEM Education and Professional Studies
Old Dominion University
GSE provided the academic rigor, exceptionally engaging instruction, and social climate that made me want to pursue a post-secondary education and work to improve the lives of my family, my community, and my country. It showed me a life outside of my community and high school, which gave me perspective on the opportunities and challenges I dealt with then and now.It showed me where I needed to grow and what strengths I shouldn’t neglect.

Neither my parents nor theirs graduated from a college or university. My father works in convenient stores and my mother works at Wal-Mart. I would not have gone to GS without the State’s support. I have never forgotten the investment the people of NC made in me. I now have a BS in Science Education from UNC-Chapel Hill and a MS and PhD in Science Education from NCSU. I’m currently involved in over $5M worth of grant-funded projects, many as PI or Co-PI, own a small business in NC, and train science teachers and educators who work all over the country and world to improve the lives of their students. This is today. I have great hopes for what can be accomplished over the next 30+ years of my career, Lord willing, and what that kind of return on investment will mean.

Nicolle Neulist
GSW 1998
If there had been tuition for Governor’s School in 1998, I would not have been able to go. It was that simple. When I was in high school, my family didn’t have money. They would not have been able to drop $500 for something so seemingly frivolous as sending me to summer camp. Since it was completely state-sponsored, however, I got the chance to go.And, it was far from frivolous. In fact, it was the best experience of my high school years.

My Area I class was choral music…and, when else was I going to get the chance to sing so much avant-garde music? It was unlike anything I had ever sung before, and I still hear bits and pieces of “When David Heard” and “Funeral Ikos” pop into my head eleven years later. When else were we going to face the question as to whether it was artistic or unpatriotic to sing a bitonal arrangement of The Star-Spangled Banner at a minor league baseball game? From the environment of my hometown and my high school? I say, nowhere else was I going to experience any of that. Area II discussed philosophy, and Area III discussed psychology…two topics that were hardly even alluded to in my home high school. Yet there, at Governor’s School, I got the chance to read and discuss writings about how the mind worked, and how we fit into society as a whole, with students from all over the state, with students in all different Area I concentrations…something I would not have otherwise been given the chance to do until several years later, in college.

Still, the academic level is nowhere near the whole story.

I learned a lot in my classes, but it was also so much more than that. At my home high school, I was very much a loner. I didn’t get along with the vast majority of my classmates, and didn’t feel like I had very much in common with them. Governor’s School opened my eyes to the previously absurd idea that there may be people floating around with whom I had something in common. It was nothing short of life-affirming to spend a summer around four hundred unabashedly intelligent peers. Those six weeks were about the only time in my entire high school career that I spent my evenings socializing instead of writing horrendously emo poetry about how much my life sucked and how little I fit in. Of course, not all academically gifted students were as alienated or socially inept as I was in high school, but many are. And, there is no way that I’m the only student whose eyes were opened in this way thanks to Governor’s School.

Amanda Tugman Coming from a small, rural community I had not been exposed to many opportunities and very little diversity. My friends and peer group typically felt the same way about everything-there wasn’t much discussion, debate, or higher level thinking about current events or other important issues. Coming to Governors School opened my eyes to the multitude of different people and confirmed my belief that I wasn’t a freak or an outcast; I was merely in the wrong environment. I pride myself on being accepting of others and their opinions, but Governors School taught me to never feel ashamed of my own opinions and thoughts. I made lasting friendships as well as lasting internal changes that will impact me for the rest of my life. Over six months after Governors School ended, I still check our Facebook page for the 2011 campus. Connecting with my friends whom I haven’t seen in almost a year reminds me of some of my most favorite memories. I would honestly hate for other gifted students to miss out on this experience and never know that they are perfectly normal; although, actually, they are not normal. They are different, and that is what makes them so special
Ashton Lawrence
GSE ’09
Natural Science
Governor’s School instilled in me a belief in self and conviction that I was greatly lacking. It inspired me to do more than just what it took to get by and encouraged me to dream big.Furthermore, at Governor’s School, I saw a group of 400 students who were absolutely dissatisfied with the status quo. I saw a group that will not be stopped by doubt, that will not cower, even in the face of insurmountable odds, and will not stop working for the betterment of all humanity. I saw people find themselves; I saw people who strove to bring out only the best in those around them.

Governor’s School fostered an environment much different from anything that any school (public or private) offers. It actually encouraged students to explore. Questions weren’t labeled “irrelevant” just because they didn’t fit a teacher’s curriculum on a given day. I was raised in a school environment where daring to explore garnered a stigma of a “problem child.” These students were broken of their creativity and often medicated so that the classroom could maintain its order. At Governor’s School, suddenly it was not only acceptable, but admirable to stop and ask “why?” Students weren’t expected to take an answer at face value. There were no one-word answers.

It was this mindset that I took back to my high school just in time for senior year. This approach to learning helped create a better learning environment for everyone involved, even once we went back to our respective schools.

At the end of the day, I’ll write this letter a million times, because no matter who I talk to, the initial assumption is that this program, like every other program that has truly effected a positive change in my life, caters to the wrong group of students.

“That money should go toward scholarships for high-achieving students,” people say. “We should put that money into programs for at-risk teens.” But I’m here to tell you this: I was an at-risk teen. I was at risk of underachieving. I was at risk of never finding myself. I was at risk of never finding a purpose in this world and never working to make a difference. I was at risk of remaining content with my own wrongdoings and misdeeds. Governor’s School changed that.

Every one of us was “at risk” at one point or another. When it came to gifted individuals like myself, it was this time around the end of high school. We felt a sense of ennui with our educational system, a system that didn’t properly cater to our needs. This made us just as “at-risk” as any other demographic, but we were overlooked because often we continued to achieve mediocrity, at the very least. That contentment with something less than our best is perhaps the most dangerous risk we run and, were it not for Governor’s School, probably would have gone on unnoticed. As the youth of this fine state, we are its future. Is that something we can afford to leave at risk?

Micah Melton Ennis
GSE ’81
Governor’s School challenged me in ways that I had never been challenged before. It brought me out of my small town and helped me recognize the larger world around me and my responsibilities to that larger world.I serve my community as a social worker in child welfare for a living and volunteer for a number of charitable organizations, as well. I can credit the beginnings of much of my leadership capacity to my experience at Governor’s School. Governor’s School instilled in me a desire to hone my intellectual capacities on an ongoing basis, so that I can be of the best service possible to others. Further, Governor’s School opened my eyes to the vast differences in people, our perceptions, and our basic beliefs. An early cultivation of a respect for difference has been an asset to me personally and professionally. Finally, Governor’s School made a distinct impact on my understanding of the need for me to learn to communicate clearly and well, both in writing and in speech, as well as the need for me to listen well and read well.

I believe Governor’s School is even more important than it was when I was a rising junior in high school. Gifted young people need fertile ground in which to cultivate their budding talents and knowledge, which may not be available in their homes and communities. Thank you for ensuring that Governor’s School continues to be available so that our young people have a better chance of making positive contributions our state and our nation.

Katie Howard It’s times like these that I wish I were a better writer.I can say without a shadow of a doubt that if it weren’t for GS I wouldn’t have attended college and maybe wouldn’t have even graduated high school. Before GS I was considering dropping out of school. High school was somewhere I was required to be. It was where I slept after working late or staying up all night with my father. I didn’t do homework, study, or even the assigned readings for classes because I didn’t really have to. I got A’s, but was never challenged. It actually made me feel like I didn’t belong in school or even deserve to go to college. This mentality probably had a lot to do with taking care of my dad as his health slowly deteriorated. Seeing my superman succumb to cancer took the fight out of me. It made school like a waste of time, and honestly for me high school was.

Shortly before my father’s death in the spring of 2008, my high school biology teacher recognized that I was close to giving up on my education. After earning the top grade on the Biology End of Course test she recommended I attend GS for the learning experience the brochures promised. I decided to go for the three meals a day and a break from a 40 hour work week, but deep down what I really wanted was to be inspired.

Before that summer I had no idea that I had such a knack for working in a chemistry lab or the ability to so easily understand major concepts in organic chemistry. There had been no opportunity for that in my high school. Our high school budget only allowed our class to do a few quasi labs. At GS I realized what I had been missing and what awaited me at a university. I had no idea that if I finished high school I would ever have to choose between attending UNC-Chapel Hill or the United States Naval Academy. I would have never guessed that I would have the opportunity to accept a scholarship that allowed me to attend any university in NC without a financial burden. I couldn’t have dreamed that I would have the opportunity to walk onto a varsity team and become a division 1 athlete.

Without GS there is absolutely no way that I would be writing an honors thesis on the research I did in the Galapagos Islands right now. Without GS I wouldn’t be this excited about choosing a graduate school, or to what heights my future might take me.

Because GS was one of the most influential experiences of my life, it’s difficult for me to understand how anyone could consider shutting the program down. How can this be taken away from other students who need it just as much as I did?

Without GS I wouldn’t be the person I am today, but it took a long time for me to realize that GS didn’t make me who I am. I arrived with all of the pieces, but my high school experiences had made me throw the directions away. It wasn’t until after GS that I realized that the directions had always been unnecessary, there is never only one way to do something. No, what I had been missing the glue.

My potential was there, I just couldn’t see it before that summer.

Lacey Horner
GSW ‘97
GS changed my life in ways that I never even dreamed were possible. I met some of my closest friends at GS. It was the first time in my life that I was completely surrounded by (academic) peers who encouraged and thrived over the pursuit of knowledge and discovery.I attended GS in 1997, in the content area of Spanish. I was the weakest student in the group, and it was the first time my life that I had ever felt like I couldn’t keep up. My teacher took me aside one day after watching me flounder once again through the class, and she told me that I would learn more than anyone because I had the furthest to go. Boy was she right! I worked and worked throughout the six weeks, trying in desperation to catch up with my classmates. I never quite caught up with them, but somewhere in the midst of that period, I learned to love artists like Frida Kahlo and movies such as “Like Water for Chocolate.”

That summer awakened my passions for the Spanish language, other cultures, and future travel. Because of this experience, it eventually lead me to major in Romance Languages with a Teaching Fellows Scholarship to UNC-CH and to later pursue my MAEd. in Foreign Language Education as a Master Teacher Fellow at Wake Forest University.

I currently teach Spanish, levels one through three, at Croatan High School in Newport, NC. I have been at the same school since I graduated from Wake Forest and am now in my 9th year of working with high school students. For most of them, I’m merely a roadblock on their path to graduation. But for a growing number, I am the facilitator and guide into their journey outside the sheltered bubble commonly known as Carteret County. You see, I am also from Newport and attended school in this very county. I know what it’s like to go to a smallish, rural, homogenous high school without exposure to much in the way of (anything but beach) culture.

Since my initiation into the world of public education, I helped establish biennial trips abroad for students, parents, and fellow faculty members of my school. There had never been a trip taken abroad at Croatan High School before I arrived. Since 2005, my foreign language colleagues and I have taken 7 trips out of the United States. As recognized by my assistant principal, these trips are my “crowning glory,” a true opportunity to show my kids what the world has to offer. For many of my travelers, this is their first trip on a plane, train, ship, subway, etc. One of the best parts is watching their reactions to seeing things that they’ve only dreamed and though about before. It’s so great knowing that I was able to help make that happen for each of them.

I’m even prouder to say that several of my former students have now decided to pursue international studies, Spanish, and even foreign language education as a result of my influence. Two students that I taught in my very first year are now completing their student teaching assignments in Spanish education. Other students, and even family friends, have told me that I was their inspiration to go back to school and study abroad. I even have another former student teaching internationally as I write this.

So you see, I may not be a mother in the traditional sense, but the fruit of my brains and passion are direct evidence of the impact that attending Governor’s School has had on me. Governor’s School changed the trajectory of my life, and I would not have been able to attend had it not been tuition-free. I stayed in state after graduating and have given back everything that I was given and then some, in public service. There are many others than have done the same I’m sure and it all started with this program. I implore you to defend and guard the existence of Governor’s School because without having participated in it who knows what I, or the nearly 40,000 other alumni, would have done without its presence and influence in our lives.

Mary Tyler March A great man once said, “He who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead; his eyes are closed.” This man was Albert Einstein, and this past summer, I awoke to understand exactly what he meant.For the past seventeen years, I had been asleep; not alive, not dead, simply dormant. I awakened from my slumber during this past summer. North Carolina’s Governor’s School West aroused not only my intellect, but also my soul. In essence, I was alive for the first time. The Governor’s School West enlivened my eyes with passion, my ears with the music of thought and intellectualism, and my soul with the beauty of diversity and acceptance. For the first time, I was in the presence of over three hundred open-minded people, and I was accepted by each one of them. My faith in mankind was rekindled.

I came into the program as an English student. The daughter of an English professor, my subject was not only fitting, but also a considerable gratification for my father. While I was decidedly eager to become a part of the Governor’s School English program, I was also mildly anxious. A grueling penultimate year of high school had left me indolent. I no longer read as often as I once had and I had come to detest writing. The two things I had once loved more than anything had become my two greatest aversions; and I would be bound by them for the next six weeks.

However, my opinions quickly changed. The chore I had come to consider reading was no longer an unpleasant task, it was an opportunity to explore a new world. I learned to read the words, not only for what they said, but also for what they implied. I overcame my fear of writing. Because everyone was so tolerant, I no longer felt the need to censor my writings. I wrote more freely and overcame my fear of sharing what I had written. Throughout the entire six week program, I developed my skills as a reader and writer in ways I would never imagine learning at school.

Reading and writing were not the only areas of my life that had become unbearable. I realized I had plunged into a state of mere contentment with my education in general. I had grown accustomed to basic memorization, allowing my mind to enter its dormant state. Governor’s School encouraged me to question everything — to abandon my comfortable bubble. It taught me to explore everything.

Albert Boulus
GS West 2002
UNC Physics and Music 2009
UNC MAC 2012
The benefits of an institution like Governor’s School are difficult to convey because the return on investment is impossible to quantify. However, I can say without hesitation that programs like Governor’s school are one of the best investments the the state of North Carolina can make in its future.The foundation of a great society is its people. People with leadership skills, people with creative ideas, people who feel they have a duty to their community and themselves to fulfill their potential.

Governor’s School gave me and my peers a chance to develop these skills and explore the possibilities of our future at a crucial age, in ways the public school system has done a poor job at cultivating.

As a GS Alumnus, I gave according to my means to help save the program this fall. As a taxpayer, I feel my dollars are being well spent funding this program for future generations.

Killing Governor’s School is killing a valuable opportunity for our youth and the future of North Carolina. Don’t close the doors. Don’t force deserving candidates to stay home because of a tuition they cannot afford. Fund Governor’s School and help build our future.

Emily Suzanne Johnson
2009 Choral Music GSW Alumni
UNC Charlotte Teaching Fellow
The Governor’s School experience is unmatched and unlike any other experience that I have ever had. The biggest factor about Governor’s School that made it feel different than any other experience was how the program dedicated huge amounts of time to encouraging students to get outside of their box mentally and socially. For students who were critical or shy to the world around them, it pushed them to open up to more things around them. For students who were already comfortable with meeting lots of new people and trying new things, they were challenged to try and see people and the world in general in a new and exciting light. Unlike most standard school settings, Governor’s School puts emphasis on how a person can learn something that might change their life from anyone at any moment. With this kind of mental and social atmosphere, students start to feel value in themselves and others around them because every moment and every conversation feels so much more important. This new found way of approaching daily life helps the students grow into the friendships and loving relationships that can be seen plainly at Convocation at the end of each summer.
Lucas Hyde Governor’s School provided me with a thirst for knowledge that I did not have prior to my experience at Governor’s School. I attended GSW, Governor’s School West at Salem College, for Natural Science. The biggest influence I experienced was during my Area 2 and Area 3 classes. These classes allowed me to discuss the tougher questions that riddle our modern society. Whether it was on a more personal level in Area 3 or a broader level in Area 2, I opened up to a more diverse existence through these avenues of discovery. Area 1, although not as profound, allowed me to discover my true interest in my already desired field of exploration. Back home, I have come under fire from some of my peers for how I have “changed”, as they say. I don’t feel I have changed though. My eyes have been opened to the descrimination we put on certain groups of people. Some of my friendships back home have even been strengthened due to my refreshed view of the world around me. The reasonings I provided for my own tendency to descriminate against certain groups of people were not very elaborate to begin with. My experience at GSW allows me to be more confident in the opinions I form because now I form them more logically instead of out of hate or lack of understanding. I KNOW that my experience at GSW has prepared me for the real world, whether it be in North Carolina or anywhere else in the world.
Erin Roche Governor’s School needs to be kept to allow future generations of NC students to have the opportunities this program provided me. Governor’s school gave me the courage to stand up for what I believe in and the strength to ask the tough questions about information that is presented to me, rather than just accepting the information as is. GSE exposed me to values, beliefs and lifestyles that I otherwise would not have been exposed to at 17 and as a result made me a better person, by reinforcing that our differences are what make the world work. GSE showed me that it’s okay to be smart- that being smart doesn’t make me weird, but rather that I have a priceless gift that I need to use everyday to make the world a better place. It introduced me to amazing friends that “got” what it’s like to be smart and gave me the opportunity to learn in a classroom where everyone wanted to learn (okay, that last part may have made senior year seem to last forever, but I at least had the excitement of looking forward to reuniting with my GSE friends in college and knowing there was life outside of my tiny hometown) I truly hope we can find a way to keep Governor’s School open so future generations can experience this wonderful opportunity that I still think back on fondly 7 years later!
Jacque Blaine
Governor’s School East 2010
Governor’s School is a massively important program, and it would frankly be a crime to deprive future generations of the experience. When I first arrived, I was painfully shy, absolutely convinced I wouldn’t fit in, and ready for six weeks of boring summer school type work. What I got instead completely changed my life. Within the first day I had found people who understood me better than most of my best friends, within three days I was getting involved with classes about things I was really interested in, and within a week I had decided I never wanted to leave. GS allowed me to find myself, and to realize that being smart wasn’t something I had to hide. It’s not a crime, which is what it sometimes feels like in normal school. I left GS with new social skills, a re-discovered love of learning, and friends I’ll have for life. It helped me feel more confident outside of my normal boundaries, which allowed me to strive for things I never would have before. If North Carolina chooses to keep Governor’s School operating, the people that leave after those six weeks will be infinitely better prepared to support, interact, and become powerful members and leaders of the community, going to greater heights than they ever would have imagined before. To put it quite simply, North Carolina needs Governor’s School to build, nurture, and grow the very future of the state.