Governor’s School: A Summer Program for Students


Illustration by Hazel Nguyen

Students getting their acceptance letters via email.

Hazel Nguyen, Staff Writer

There are many activities that students chose to do over the summer, such as summer camps, summer school and other fun activities. In Governor’s School, students can do all three! 

The Virginia Summer Residential Governor’s Schools is a summer activity that allows students to learn many valuable skills over the summer to grow their academic, practical and social skills. This is a completely free program (with the exception of activity fees) that consists of seven schools: engineering, marine science, agriculture, humanities, STEM, Medicine and Health Sciences and Visual and Performing Arts. 

“I am excited to learn a lot from this experience,” said Nuri Han, a sophomore who got into the Visual and Performing Arts School at Radford University. “I think I might have one-on-one lessons about the pieces I’m currently working on, so I’d like to receive another professional’s (other than my current private teacher) opinion about my playing.” 

There are five colleges hosting these programs: Virginia Tech, Christopher Newport University, Radford University, University of Lynchburg, and Virginia Commonwealth University. They have various classes and opportunities in each specialized school, to include helping students grow as musicians and artists in the Visual and Performing Arts program. These activities carry on for an entire month; this pre-college experience will give students a feel of college life. However, this can be very daunting for juniors and especially sophomores!

And just like college, there is an application process to get in. 

There was a preliminary audition,” said Hailey Chong, a sophomore who also got into the Visual and Performing Arts program. “If you pass that, you have to go to an in-person audition. The website was difficult to navigate and the application itself was very confusing. It was hard to understand the instructions, but the counselors helped me through it.” 

For other Governor’s School programs, there is an essay portion of the application, but for the ones Han and Chong are attending, there is only an audition process. The application may be intimidating to high school students who have no prior application experience, but Freedom’s counselors give very useful information and guidance along the way to assist applicants. There is an interest meeting near the beginning of each school year along with follow-up meetings with one’s assigned counselor to help students submit their best work. 

Though the application process for any of the Governor’s Schools are competitive, if staying away from home for so long is too intimidating for students, there are regional Governor’s Schools that do not involve packing a suitcase. 

“My Governor’s School is not residential, but I do have to board a bus every day at 6am and I will only get home around 6pm!” said Maadhavan Iyer, a freshman who is attending PAVAN Regional Governor’s School’s Vocal Division, a two-week program taking place in Sherando High School. “I am worried about how much stamina I will have by the end of the program, and I am really scared that I won’t be able to fully experience it because of how tired I will be, which was an issue last time I attended.”

All Governor’s Schools have a very busy schedule for their students to help them take advantage of the many opportunities offered there, but students may feel fatigued and burnt out from a busy school year. Therefore, Governor’s Schools are usually best-suited for highly-motivated and ambitious students who can manage balancing a rigorous schedule and enjoying their summer break. If students are interested in these special programs, they can talk to their school counselor to get more information!