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Governor's School a life-altering experience

Governor’s School is worth saving
By Leigh Beth Lytle
For the Salisbury Post
A summer in the Governor’s School is an unforgettable experience for participants, offering an exciting learning environment that encourages free thinking for some of the most gifted students across the state. This is an invaluable six–week experience for 600 North Carolina students who are free to pursue their artistic and academic passions, without the trappings of a normal school environment. Yet, according to the recently passed state budget, this program has zero value.
On June 16, when it approved the new state budget, the General Assembly assigned no money to the fund Governor’s School, resulting in an $850,000 budget gap for the annual program held at two locations. The General Assembly decided that the 49-year-old program could still run on a tuition-based system or through funds raised by the Governor’s School Foundation, started about 20 years ago. However, a tuition-based system would be detrimental to the diversity of the program.
At this time, families with widely varied socioeconomic backgrounds are able to attend, but charging $2,100 tuition would narrow the student population drastically. The foundation is working to ensure that the residential program is available to all eligible and deserving students. The major kick off to this campaign was “Alumni Day” and “Day of Service and Thanks,” held in Raleigh at Governor’s School East on July 9. Students performed various service projects around Raleigh, such as road clean-up, to thank the residents of North Carolina for supporting the program for 49 years. More than 300 alumni in attendance contacted older alumni through phone calls asking for support. This endeavor raised about $20,000 of the needed amount. The next movement of this campaign is to ask other North Carolina residents to donate money.
I along with all the other students at Governor’s School East have been working hard to preserve the program. As my time here is drawing to a close, I am becoming aware that this experience will forever impact my life. I was nominated in English, which is one of 10 subjects that include math, natural science, social science, French/Spanish, dance, theater, choral music and instrumental music. My English class is focused on creative writing, which is out of my comfort zone but has helped me improve tremendously in my creative writing skills. While we spend the majority of our time in our designated subject, we also attend other classes. They focus on discovering our own values, morals and world views in a place where it is acceptable to disagree.
One crucial part of this experience for me has been the exposure to different cultures and ideas outside of class. Governor’s School is more diverse than any other adolescent gathering I have ever attended. I have made friends from many different countries, cultures and religions. All of the Governor’s School alumni I have spoken to have agreed that this experience was a major part of shaping who they are today. I think this program is incredibly valuable, and it is essential that it continue to be offered to North Carolina students. I am very grateful for this experience. I am humbled by the vast knowledge on world issues that many students here have. I love to listen to the writing of the other students in my class because they sound better than some published writers. I am also honored to have some amazing teachers here.
The North Carolina Governor’s School is the flagship program of its kind in the country and has been replicated in more than 35 states. However, it still remains the most prestigious. Governor’s School may seem like a waste of taxpayer money, but it allows the best of the young citizens in North Carolina to strive to achieve their fullest potential, including future scientists, diplomats, politicians, etc., who, through Governor’s School, can develop the tools they need to enact positive change throughout North Carolina, the United States and the world. It’s not a needless expenditure; it’s an investment in the future well-being of North Carolina. Please help support this program any way you can by visiting ncgsfoundation.org and making a tax deductible donation.
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Leigh Beth Lytle, a rising senior at West Rowan High, is currently attending Governor’s School East at Meredith College.

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